The Highwayman’s toll

Today, I intend to sing in a different tone,
A tale about a place and creatures unknown.
A highwayman of much repute,
A despicable man, an absolute brute.

His fellow robbers would often say,
“If the need arose, his shadow too he would betray.”
Tonight as any other, he’d struck again,
But the cavalry caught up with his handymen.
He however, had cleverly evaded arrest.
“East!.”, he yelled to them and fled west.
Before the men could see through the deceit
He had ridden onwards, a path discreet.

He trod over treacherous ravines,
Till he reached some sort of abandoned mines.
He pricked up his ears and came to a stop.
“Call it a night laddie, time to shut shop.”
He tied his horse to the trunk of a nearby tree
Not a creature around, as far as he could see.
The woods were turning darker by the mile,
It was prudent to rest for a while.

The mines looked sinister and fraught with danger,
To which our fiend was no stranger.
He clasped his dagger, his flask of mead,
The eerie glow of his lantern would onward lead.
As he cautiously hunched and walked inside,
He counted his steps, he marked each stride.
He ventured not too far from the mouth,
It would be too risky going further south.
He quickly set his lantern down,
And lay on his back, on a soft rabble of brown.
He slowly and steadily drifted towards dreams,
Working on several devious schemes.

His precious scheme were disrupted by a grunt.
“That’s my bed!!”,he heard a voice, hoarse and blunt.
He found himself staring at an angry Goblin,
It growled,”Why I oughtta have your skin!”
It had a grotesque, a most unsightly make,
The fiend knew that his life was now at stake.

Its big eyes glowed in the eerie light,
Long, pointed ears, its sharp nails, a fright.
Razor sharp teeth stood glaring at him,
With a large earthen pot, filled up to the brim
Something flowing and swirling inside,
For which the fiend would’ve given his hide.
“I apologize profusely, for having offended you,
I would’ve stayed out if I only knew
That this was home to a living soul,
I will try and repay, just name your toll.”

The plan was to appeal to the Goblin’s greed,
He had enough to bargain, there was gold and mead.
The Goblin seemed to have taken the bait,
“Alright! I’ll have pieces of gold, atleast eight.”
The fiend smiled a relieved smile,
“I’ll give you more if you let me stay a while.”
The Goblin gave a disgruntled nod,
He found the fiend’s actions very odd.

“I have always wondered what Goblins do,
I’ll pay extra gold for answers from you.”,
The fiend offered it twelve pieces of gold,
It grabbed the gold as his eyes patrolled.
“I do what I want and in my mines I weigh
The riches that I gather during the day.”

“But this mine has long been in disuse.”
The fiend was curious of what riches it could produce.
The Goblin turned and walked further ahead,
Our fiend complied and offered gold instead.
“Precious gems and stones, gold and silver ore.
Beyond a human’s reach, close to the earthy core.”
The Goblin again walked further ahead.
The roof of the mine was getting closer overhead.
The fiend still followed, with his lantern.
He offered gold again, more he had to learn.

“What do you do with all the riches?”
“We temper them and carry them in our britches.”
“What good would come of that?”
“They are enchanted, used in combat.”
“What kind of enchantments can you weave?”
“To heal, to relieve, to make one believe.”
“Where from do you learn these magic spells?”
“From the underground, its ancient wells.”

“Where is this underground that you mention?”
“A realm beyond your reach, a different dimension.”
“How can one reach this land of beyond?”
“Only if one signs, the ancient, earthly bond.
A bond of iron, a pact of the creatures underground,
To take their form but by conditions bound.
One could be sworn by paying a small fees.”
The fiend reached for gold, he found one last piece.

“Alas, you have not enough to garner my aid,
Be gone now! You can offer me naught, I’m afraid.”,
The goblin feigned interest and turned away,
Greed had begun to hold its sway.
The fiend offered his horse, his dagger, his mead,
But the goblin refused, not once he agreed.
“But I do say, I don’t mind some help myself,
I must take this earthen pot to an elf.
It resides in the underground where riches are smelt.”
The fiend nodded, picked up the pot, warm it felt.

He peered inside now and then as he followed behind,
He fancied the riches that he would find,
A free trip to the underground without a bond,
The goblin knew not that he was being conned.
Weary though he was, the fiend diligently walked,
Now and then, the ground trembled and rocked.

As they passed, the fiend saw quarries in plenty,
Gold, silver, diamonds and rubies among the bounty.
He saw old, dwarf like men hammering the rocks,
The gems were separated, then kept as stocks.
The labour looked tired but more so deranged,
They mumbled and grumbled, no words they exchanged.

When their bags were filled to the brim,
They were offered food or drink or maybe a trim.
Their eyes were sunken, their skin red and dry,
They hunched and stooped and often one would cry.
Finally they reached the elf that was busy smelting,
“More resources, dear friend, here I bring.”
The goblin said to the elf and started to walk away,
The fiend greedily pocketed gems that were lying astray.
He turned back to the entrance from which they came,
He soon realized the goblin’s cunning game.

He knew not how to escape the underground,
By his actions and greed, he was now bound.
The entrance was nowhere to be seen,
“You can work for me in return for canteen.”,
The goblin whispered and then walked away,
“Might as well be useful, if you decide to stay.”
Every question had made him poorer by gold pieces two
Maybe he had bitten off more than he could chew.

About the post: Purely from my fanatasies of goblins and whatnot, inspired by the many fables and tales I had read as a child. 🙂