short story - 7 min read
The Search for Svenwald
by Thor Magnusson
There’s an age-old expression in the Realm almost as ancient as the great serpent Jormungand with his strangling grip beneath the waters - when it comes to Goblins, always pay your debts. They’re easily known as the most stubborn and persistent creatures ever to stand on two legs of Midgaard’s soil, and there’s no better example then Rumglud, a boil-faced member of the species that carried out a lending service from his small rickety shack.
This place of business was far off from the Goblin Highgrounds since Rumglud didn’t relate much to his kind and their boorish livings, his higher intelligence led him to running this successful business, an open service for all creatures of the Realm - in return for a trade one could borrow an item from his large collection of knick-knacks that he procured (or had stolen) over his lengthy existence. These things would vary from simple humans items like shovels or bowls, to more specific things of a lethal nature. That item would then have to be returned on a specific date for the transaction to be complete.
It sounded like a flimsy business model for a region inhabited by the most conniving creatures in Midgaard yet occupants of the realm soon learned the hard way to keep to their word - whilst Rumglud was hardly the biggest or fiercest of his species, he had a supernatural skill at tracking with the ability to find anything anywhere. Add to that an unbreakable determination to hunt and chase you down even if he need climb the spiralling clouds to the great halls of Valhalla, or crawl deep down to the hallow empty cold of the manor of Helheim - there was no getting away from Rumglud, and his jagged blade would be stuck in your back before his presences could notice. Such was the Goblin’s persistence, a mandate that would lead this creature towards a fateful day to the far North of the realm - to the dreaded Ice Peaks.
That day in question was due to a transaction carried out with a Dwarf by the name of Svenwald - for a dozen goats Rumglud lent him a pair of snow shoes, and a sturdy pickaxe. Dwarf’s were known for their unfolding selfish nature yet Svenwald had always been a reliant customer in the past, still something didn’t sit well in the Goblin’s stomach about the ordeal, he couldn’t put his finger on what, but his stomach grew uneasy with a sour taste - he ignored it though.
Days later at sunset on the deadline for return, that feeling returned. He sat there frustrated till the sky was pitch-black, it was then without question - his possessions would not be returned. Annoyance washed over him, he hated missing supper, not to mention killing a good customer, but business always came first.
Rumglud grabbed his weapon of choice, ’Thorax the Throat Cutter’, a trusty blade made from unbreakable Malinite stone, it was heavy and blunt but when sharpened at just the right angle (which Rumglud did periodically) it was by far the deadliest blade in the Norse territories. Next he grabbed a scrap from Svenwald’s scruffy tunic, made from Klaksilt - trusty Dwarf clothing material. It was a necessity to anyone that wished to become a customer of Rumglud that they hand over a personal item with their scent on it, in insurance for a situation like this one. The Goblin took in a good deep inhale of that Dwarf’s sweaty odour, the filthy scent went deep into his lungs, it dissolved in his belly’s acid and Rumglud’s true talent emerged - that smell became clearly visible to his eyes, seen as a thick purplish mist that streamed outside the cabin in a directional path. He wasted no time and leaped out his front door.
Rumglud was incredibly fast for an old Goblin - his legs were stumpy but they made up for paces with speedy determination and unwavering stamina, the purplish mist led him forward like a fired arrow through the thick nature - dodging, ducking and leaping. To little surprise the path was going north, heading straight for the Barren Rocks, a territory staked by the Dwarves and Dark Elves. Rumglud recognised most of the surroundings as he flashed by the Realm this night, figuring he would end up at the ominous cave entrance that led deep down into a network of labyrinth like tunnels that mapped out the Dwarves world. Rumglud knew he would need approach carefully, yet it wouldn’t be the first time he snuck in there either.
Strangely though the mist didn’t wind down deep into the gaping mouth of the caves once the Barren Rocks came into view, it navigated instead up a small hidden route over the surface of the rocky environments upper ground. Rumglud blindly followed but grew perplexed - “What idiot Dwarf would travels over the rocks?” he thought.
Perhaps Svenwald had found a hiding place nearby for those items that were rightfully Rumgluds - but the small minuscule route the mist painted only narrowed and winded through brittle stone and then lead up and up. As the environment got steeper, so did the air get colder and the ground become slick with ice.
As night turned into morning, that sour note in Rumglud’s belly returned - he was entering the Ice Peaks, a place inhabitable and that none returned from, a place feared even by creatures of the Realm. The Goblin didn’t hesitate - even if Svenwald stood on the iciest peak of the Ice Peaks, this Goblin would find him and quench Thorax’s thirst for retribution. Still as unbroken his mind was, his relentless pace began to wear down - the footing lacked grip and was slippery, his stumbles took their toll on his pacing, and the biting cold wind took its effect on his breathing.
For the first time in the Goblin’s lengthy life, he took pause as he was in need of a minute to catch his breath, he looked at the path behind - a steep incline filled with snow, the barren rocks were a vast distance below, the comfort of the Plush Wilds unseen to his sharp eyes. He looked above - more snow, frost and heavy winds with no visual of the purple mist path coming to an end. Rumglud had to decide and the thought arose - “Could this bastard Dwarf be the one…the one that beat me?”
The thought was fleeting, a Goblin’s stubborn determination is always stronger than it’s doubt, and his choice was really no choice at all - the only way forward, was up.
Yet it was easier said then done, the walk up felt like days (in reality only a few brief moments) and the endless and thrifty stamina of a determined Goblin finally began to wear down, thankfully he did find an end to his mist - further up where the peaks’ air became a thick wall of white hale, the mist winded down into a large cracked opening, an entrance to a hidden cavern.
The Goblin ducked inside relieved, lumbering slowly and painful into the dark and narrow cavern. He could barely see two steps in front of him yet the mist to his eyes remained illuminated as clear as day, and led him forward. He stumbled over something - a snow shoe and then it’s duplicate a few more steps ahead. Around a narrow bend he turned and found the pickaxe sticking out the ground, then around a second bend the mist teased him on - “Surely there will lay a shivering and remorseful Svenwald around this next corner?” The Goblin thought.
Rumglud was correct in his assumption, for that bend led to a larger chamber within the cavern, where it housed Svenwald - yet he was neither shivering or remorseful, instead splayed across the ice walls in ripped, frozen pieces. Dead centre of the cavern lay a satchel full of gold coin nuggets - “That dumb Dwarf came all this way up, just to hide his riches from his own kind? Yet what was his undoing?”.
Well, as soon as this thought evaporated, the persistent Goblin quickly found his answer as the far cave wall stirred, pivoting itself in the dark, revealed it was no wall but as a living and breathing creature, one who was impossible to make heads or tails of within the lack of light - only that it breathed a rancid stench and it’s steps shook this cavern’s foundations. Rumglud was too tired to run, and too old to care, he had found his retribution and no one could say he was a Goblin that didn’t get his debts paid. A minor thought like this, was enough to bring a smile to Rumglud, before a giant grey fist came down upon it.