The goblin that lives in the Great Hall won’t stop trying to give me quests. Every time I go in there he tries to set me on some sort of adventure.
“Oooh,” he says in his creaky little goblin voice, “oooh there is a dark forest but five miles west of here, where you may find a castle shrouded in vines. And in that castle is a great treasure!”
I just cut him off. I say, “Shut up goblin, I am not interested in your stupid quests.”
He just cackles and cackles and scurries off and I roll my eyes and get back to class.
It wouldn’t be so bad, to be honest. I could just avoid the Great Hall, but he won’t stop following me to class. The other day I was doing a group presentation in one of the New Law basement classrooms, and right as I’m getting to my section on methodology he toddles in, his short clawed feet catching on the ragged purple robe. That’s another thing about him, the robe. He calls it his ‘warlock garments’, but it’s just a two-dollar store wizard costume that I think he picked up off the floor of the Paul’s halloween party a few years back.
Anyway, he toddles into the classroom, talons snagging and catching on the edges of his robe, and he immediately starts with his quest schtick like, “Young man! Young man! The village of Westhorpe is under attack from the deadly chupacabra. It sucks their goats clean empty of their blood and steals away in the night with their sacks of grain! They say no weapon by human forged may harm it, but an elven blade forged in the Second Dawning still remains, hidden in the mountains. Find this blade, young man! Find it, and you may slay the chupacabra, and save the townsfolk!”
At this point, no one is paying attention to my presentation, as you’d imagine. My tutor goes, “Sorry, who are you?” and the goblin gets kind of flustered and sort of casts around for a moment before his eyes settle on my slideshow, and he goes “why I am… Powerpond! The warlock!”
My tutor just frowns a bit and says, “Did you just make that name up? Based on the Powerpoint logo?” and the goblin squeaks and rushes out of the room, stumbling on his frayed robe along the way.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was at a job interview for a grad program and he did it again. There I was, explaining my greatest strengths and weaknesses, when he swayed in, his three-foot frame enveloped in a sagging large suit. He waddled up to one of the chairs on the interviewer’s side of the table, and after a couple of attempts, clambered up to sit in it.
Turning round to face me, he asked “So, what are your dragon slaying-related competencies?”
At this point, the interviewer, clearly bewildered, politely asked us both to leave. I walked, dazed, out of the office and practically stumbled to a bench in Hyde Park. My head fell into my hands and I couldn’t help but sob. I looked up and saw the goblin, smiling his dopey grin, and I realised just how stupid I was. How stupid of me to ever think that I could be anything more than what I was, what I had ever been, a walking catastrophe, followed by a quest-offering warlock. If this stupid fucking goblin didn’t exist, I thought, I would have to invent him. I said this to him – I told him how all I ever wanted to do was make my mother proud, how she had had it so tough, and I had had it so easy and I could never seem to get it right. Square peg, round hole. I said this to him through my tears, and he just toddled up to me and placed one green, clawed palm on my knee and asked me if I wanted to slay a dragon.
I pulled myself together, of course I did. There were other grad programs, there were other opportunities, and I just had to push through, and I did. I made it through, and there I am in the Great Hall, graduating. The goblin hadn’t bothered me for months, and I had studied hard, and it had paid off. I was going to be something other than what I had always been.
My name was called, and I walked up the steps to the main stage. I took my diploma. I shook the hand. I smiled for the camera, and as the bright white of the flash faded from my eyes I saw the goblin swinging in towards me, his tiny clawed hands white-knuckled around a cord from a lighting rig, as he careened into the Special Guest they had brought in to present the awards. After having flattened the poor guy, the goblin stood up and looked me dead in the eye and said, “In the far off valley of Greysfall…”.
I didn’t hear what the goblin had to say next because some campus security goon tried to grab him, and I – for whatever stupid reason, probably the last scrap of my instinct for self-preservation withering away – pulled him out of the way, dragging him through the crowd and up the stairs into the tower.
Security followed us closely behind as we climbed the spiral staircase, me practically dragging the goblin by the arm. Eventually, we reached the top and we entered a door. We were in a broom closet, and there was no way out but a high, high window. The security guards were still coming, though, and I jammed a chair into the door just before they slammed into it, their combined mass shifting the chair ever so slightly against the floor as the door creaked.
I gasped in air and stared at the stupid fucking goblin who had gotten me there. “Get us out of here!” I said.
“How?” he replied with a naive grin.
“I don’t know, a- a flying spell!”
“Oh I can’t -”
“You’re a fucking warlock!”
The doors pounded again and the chair shifted ever so slightly more. The goblin winced apologetically. “Not that type of warlock I’m afraid.”
The door thumped again and I heard the heavy jeers of the security guards from outside. I drew in a sharp breath. I saw my mother, asking me what was wrong with me when I was sent home from school. I breathed out. I saw myself sobbing in the bathroom of Martin Place Station when I went there at 8:50 one morning and imagined myself as one of those commuters. I breathed in. I saw the chair move again. I breathed out. I saw the goblin. I breathed in. I saw the window. I breathed out, slower now, and saw the goblin. I breathed in, picked up the goblin, hurled him through the window, and followed closely myself. I don’t know what goblins are made out of, but it’s springy as shit. I bounced off him and we stood up, bruised but alive, as I heard the door burst open and saw the security guards stick their heads out the window and stare at us in disbelief.
I met his eyes, and saw the same half-crazed look that he saw in mine, and we briefly amazed one another. There were dragons to slay, villages to save, cities to burn. I undid my tie, he hoisted up his robes, and we were off.