“Hey you, dockhand! Get to work!”

The loud sneering voice could only mean one thing, Chetan’s day was about to get a lot worse. He looked up. In front of him stood Daniel Richards. Internally, he groaned at the sight of the harbormaster’s spoiled son, but kept his composure as he got to his feet. The days when the harbourmaster made his son run the docks were always the worst.

“My father’s not paying you to lay around all day,” Daniel said with a smirk. He pointed to a small fishing boat that had just pulled up to the dock. It looked like a regular fishing boat, but Chetan was sure it was a runic ship, most of the local fisherman had them. Vessels enhanced through the carving of runes to move faster and survive dangerous weather conditions.

But today the weather was nice. There was a gentle breeze in the air that carried the taste of salt, and Chetan could hear the gulls calling as they circled overhead, and he figured he could guess why. On the boat’s deck were eight large wooden barrels. He only had to smell the air to know they were filled to the brim with freshly caught fish.

“Get those barrels to the market!” Daniels voice came again.

“Yes sir,” replied Chetan, a bit shortly as he attempted to hide his annoyance. He turned and walked over to the boat. He would have liked to punch Daniel, but it wouldn’t be worth losing his job. Two other deckhands had already heaved one barrel off the ship as it rocked gently on the waves. Chetan laid the barrel on its side and began to roll it up the dock to the market stalls.

It was a very labor-intensive job, but Chetan knew working hard was what it would take to support his household. Chetan looked at Daniel as he rolled the barrel past him, rumbling across the wooden dock, the fish sloshing around inside. Daniel’s back was turned, but Chetan was sure he was still wearing a smirk on his face.

Hard work was something Daniel would never know, he thought. The harbormaster’s son had never known what it felt like to struggle. He wondered how important that one fact was. Daniel didn’t actually work at the docks, his father just sent him when he was too busy to come himself. Chetan thought that maybe if Daniel had his own job, he’d be more humble.

Suddenly, something else caught Chetan’s eye, and he was brought back to the present. A small, red, cylindrical object had come rolling out from behind a stack of crates on the dock. There was a long, skinny wire coming out of one end, and it was spewing bright red sparks. He let go of the barrel in shock as he realized what it was, a goblin Boomy Stick.

The crudely-made explosive was rolling straight towards Daniel, and his back was still turned. In an instant, Chetan sprang into action. He ran to Daniel, grabbing him by the shoulders and throwing him out of the way, yanking him with such force that his fancy blue coat ripped at the shoulder. Chetan ran towards the Boomy Stick. Bringing back his foot, he kicked the goblin explosive as hard as he could. It flew off the dock and into the sea with a loud splash. The lit fuse fizzled out as the stick fell to the sea floor.

Chetan breathed a sigh of relief, but moments later Daniel was screaming at him, clutching the rip in his coat as if it was a stab wound.

“You! I’ll have you fired for this! I’ll-”

“I just saved your life!” Responded Chetan, a bit of anger noticeable in his voice, but he quickly tried to calm himself. He knew there was important work to do, he knew the explosive hadn’t just appeared out of thin air. He wanted to search around for the goblin, but he needed to explain to Daniel first.

Chetan reached out a hand and helped Daniel to his feet. As he did so, he saw a small figure run out from behind the crates. It glanced at them for a brief instant before taking off running up the dock, its feet hammering against the wood. It wore a huge fur coat that kept its body hidden, but from its feet Chetan could see its skin was green. The goblin sprinted off into the city, faster than any human could run.

A gasp of mingled surprise and horror near his ear told Chetan that Daniel had noticed it too.

“What the hell is that.. thing?” There was a tone of disgust in his voice, as if he already suspected the answer.

“A goblin,” Chetan replied, in a hushed tone. They were on the docks after all, which meant they were surrounded by outsiders.

“And if I hadn’t saved you, a lit stick of goblin-dynamite would have blown up at your feet.”

“A goblin?!” Daniel now wore an expression of pure revulsion. “One of this filthy, ugly, little creatures? It was trying to kill me?!”

“Shh, keep your voice down. No, it wasn’t trying to kill you, they aren’t like that.”

“Then why did it have dynamite? How do you know what they’re like anyway?”

“I’ve met some. They’re not malicious, maybe a bit clumsy. It could have dropped the explosive by accident.”

“Oh and I suppose the fuse just lit itself?” Daniel snorted, with a look of incredulity on his face, “It sounds like that disgusting creature was attempting to murder me!”

Daniel was still staring off in the direction that the goblin had run, though now it was long gone.

“For all we know, it could have lit by itself. They can be careless with their runes, all of their equipment has a chance to spontaneously combust.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, “Oh yes, of course, it all comes back to those damn runes. Magical trickery that causes most of this town’s problems.”

“Look,” said Chetan, cutting him off. “That’s not important right now. What matters is that we get to City Hall right away.”

“City Hall?” Daniel scoffed, taking his eyes off the dock and focusing them on Chetan. “What exactly are the politicians going to do about it? That horrible creature has probably crawled back into the sewers, or wherever it is that they come from. You know, I don’t see why we don’t kill them on sight.”

Chetan sighed, finding it incredibly difficult to keep Daniel from ranting. He noticed that even though he was incredibly angry, there was a trace of fear in his eyes.

“Daniel, they were here first.”

Daniel subsided, perhaps due to the seriousness in Chetan’s voice, making him aware that he may have gone too far. After a while, Chetan decided to break the silence, trying a different approach. He figured there was an easier way to get Daniel to come with him to City Hall.

“Daniel, that boom stick could have blown a hole in the dock. Don’t you intend to inherit your old man’s business some day?”

“Well yeah,” said Daniel slowly, as if trying to find something in Chetan’s words he could disagree with.

“Well then we have to get to City Hall. We need to warn them. We need police officers down here keeping an eye out so this doesn’t happen. You really hate goblins don’t you?”

“Of course I hate them!” For a moment his usual sneering voice returned, but it was somewhat weakened by the frightening experience.

“Have you ever met one?”

“Never, and I definitely don’t want to after this! And you can’t convince me!”

“I don’t have to. Just tell the people at City Hall that you want them kept away from your father’s business for your own safety.”

Daniel pondered this for a moment before slowly nodding his head.

“Alright, let’s go.”