If you look diligently in the cracks and seams of man’s civilization, you might have a chance of finding faery folk. It wasn’t always this way. In the age before this one, the faery folk ruled. Before Ragnarok, before Yggdrasil. Now when most people hear the word faeries, they’re actually thinking of the pixies, the light, lithe faeries with the wings of dragonflies or butterflies. In truth, there are as many types of faeries as there are aspects of nature. The familiar pixies are of the wind and the air, the leprechauns in their green clothes are of the green open fields, the kobolds are of the crawling and creeping things; the goblins are of the deep dark places in the mountains, and the elves like the sun, the moon, and the stars from which they come, stand over all others.
One thing was foul to the faerie folk and it was iron. Thus they made their tools, weapons, and armor from the more precious metals, gold, silver, and bronze. Born out of darkness, the goblins were the least hurt by iron. And thus they were made the miners, the smelters, and the smiths, the workers with iron tools. Soot was a goblin; a goblin metalsmith. Though it was painful, Soot loved his work. In status, he was just a goblin but his work, his work made him so much more. Taking raw gold, silver, and bronze then shaping and molding them into tools, jewelry, and such; it was a connection to something he could not explain. It was this connection to the unspeakable that was Soot’s most treasured connection, rivaled only when he met Goldenhair.
Princess Goldenhair was the last of the seven daughters born to the elven king of the faeries. Her common name came from her hair; it was the gold of the sun’s rays and like the sun, she was a fiery, passionate individual who wished to reach all creatures. She spent much time with the lower creatures, known as the only unarmed elf to enter Goblintown since the rebellion. Soot made her acquaintance when she first came to Goblintown, seeking the maker of her favorite bracelet. From that meeting birthed a friendship which deepened as such friendships can. Her fiery passion warmed Soot just as his cool logic refreshed her. Even more, they each lent aid to the pursuit of the other’s dreams. Soot introduced her to the goblin people and taught her their ways. Goldenhair brought Soot’s work to the attention of the court earning him a chance at acclaim.
On one of these trips everything started as expected. Soot stood off against the wall, watching the noble faeries appraise his work from his corner of the room. As expected of a goblin, Soot kept his gaze cast to the floor; venturing now and then to catch Goldenhair’s eye. They had matched up a few times already and the brief grins they flashed at each other left lasting smiles on each of their faces.
“Your work outshines even that of the most skilled dwarf and the most ingenious gnome.”
Soot turned to see the Grand Magi Lowborn standing just out of the shadows. Soot cut his eyes to the floor and hid his smile. Lowborn was unlike the rest of the elf royal family; where the rest stood tall with heads back and looked down their noses, Lowborn curled in over his staff and looked up through his brows. Soot had heard the whispers, fed by Lowborn’s pale skin and deep dark eyes, he was a dark elf, those that represent the eaters of light, the black holes, and the void between stars.
“Thank you, Grand Magi,” Soot bowed.
“Hahahaha,” the elf’s laugh was stained with the acid of cruelty, “nervous, are you? Why would you be nervous? Perhaps you’re looking at something you shouldn’t, something beyond your reach? Feeling guilty of holding something precious and pure in your dirty hands?”
“Merely looking for approval on the faces of my patrons,” Soot hid his clenched fist behind his back and bowed, “I am ever grateful for each opportunity.”
Another sharp laugh snaked its way into Soot’s back.
“One face always has approval for you,” Lowborn smiled a sharp grin, “and your work, of course.”
“I have no—”
“Soot,” he pronounced it suit, “smithing makes you strong, does it not?”
“You…” Soot ventured to meet eyes with Lowborn, “You know my name?”
“To do anything else would be beneath even me,” Lowborn presented his right hand, heavy with rings, bangles, and bracelets; Soot recognized all of them as his make, “your work holds my magic particularly well.”
“I’m glad my work has been of use.”
“Very well. Tell me Soot, are you not curious why magic crafted by the greatest mind in the kingdom fits within your creations the best?”
“Because they are simple,” Lowborn lifted his hands to the light to admire his jewelry, “the dwarves are too proud and their work too ordinate; the gnomes are too frantic and their work too complicated but a goblin, a goblin is simple.”
Soot bristled but then stiffened when Lowborn smiled at him.
“Do not take it for an insult, Soot, for simplicity is a lost art. Everyone is so busy trying to leave their unique mark that they all come out the same. I-ronic. Simplicity is effective, simplicity is strong, and simplicity is flexible. Complicated requires binding specifics but simple; simple allows creativity, passion.”
“I’m afraid this is beyond my understanding.”
Lowborn raised an eyebrow and sneered at Soot.
“Simplicity does have its limitations,” Lowborn smiled, “but that gives it strength. Soot, are you a loyal citizen?”
Soot nodded, “I…try to be.”
“Excellent. The king is in need, Soot,” Lowborn grabbed Soot by the shoulders and pulled the goblin into his confidence, “a powerful magic item has been stolen and we need it back.”
“Who would dare steal from the king?” asked Soot
Lowborn looked about for prying ears and leaned in closer to Soot.
“A troll,” he said.
“A troll?” Soot asked, “how could—”
“It is an old story but we know where it went.”
“Where is that?”
“The Old Malwood Caves.”
Soot’s eyes exploded open.
“The abandoned iron mines? What why?”
Lowborn shrugged his shoulders, which nearly brought them over his head.
“Who could know the mind of such a simple creature?”
Soot bristled. Lowborn turned to walk away then stopped.
“Do this, my dear simple Soot, and I will help you have what you truly desire,” Lowborn flexed his hand of Soot’s rings, “you have my word.”
Lowborn walked into the shadows, leaving Soot looking into the floor, as was expected of a goblin.