By Ian Thomas Wilson (Rated G)
Alfric was in a foul mood. Then again, Alfric had been in a foul mood since that incident with the ring. His old age hadn’t dulled his frustration in the slightest. The dwarf lord hobbled to his iron throne, leaning on a staff. His hairy brows were drawn into a permanent scowl.
A herald entered the great hall, just as Alfric took his seat.
“What is it?!” barked Alfric.
“Robin Goodfellow is here to see you, my Lord,” said the herald.
“What does that wretched hobgoblin want?!”
“Y-you summoned him, my Lord,” said the herald.
“Fine! Send him in!”
The hobgoblin strode into the great hall, bowing low.
“About time you showed up! Where have you been?” inquired Alfric.
“Oh, here and there,” replied Robin.
“I need you to pinch something,”
“What would you like me to pinch?”
“Wayland’s hammer,” said the dwarf lord, nonchalantly.
Robin gaped. Wayland was a legendary name among dwarf-kind, and his hammer and anvil had made countless famous weapons.
“My cousin, Gudmund, took it from me,” said the dwarf.
“You’re still sore over that?!” a powerful, feminine voice boomed from behind Robin.
“Don’t lecture me, woman!” bellowed Alfric.
Titania stood in the threshold, hands on her hips and fire in her eyes.
“You’ve been squabbling over that stupid thing for ages!”
“It’s mine by right!” said the dwarf lord, rising from his throne.
“You are so petty!” said the queen.
“By what time would you like the hammer delivered?” asked Robin.
“Gudmund is having a banquet on Don’s day. You can steal it then.”
“And what, my Lord,” began Robin, “are you willing to pay in order to have said hammer?”
“Name your price! I’m good for it,” shouted Alfric.
“You shall have it by Frigg’s Day morn,” said Robin, bowing low before the dwarf lord.
Gudmund had invited all of his relatives to this banquet, including Alfric and Titania. Robin hid out of sight in a saddlebag. Once they were past the gate guards, Robin unbuttoned the bag and set about his task. He wove in and out between revelers and tables laden with food. Hobgoblins have the ability to slip by groups of people unnoticed and Robin had developed this into an art form.
He made his way to the center of the keep, where Gudmund kept his most precious relics. The door was locked, of course. Locks of dwarvish make are impossible to crack- but not for Goodfellow. It took some effort and patience on his part, but he eventually cracked the lock. The massive door swung open, revealing the treasures of Gudmund’s clan. Robin licked his lips; so much loot here he could fence! But he was hired to take the hammer alone.
Wayland’s hammer was displayed on the wall. It was heavy; possibly the heaviest thing he’d ever stolen. He put it into his bag, strapped it to his back and started to leave. Suddenly, he heard the sounds of footsteps down the hall. He hid behind a suit of armor and held his breath. The lock opened with a loud clank. Gudmund entered the relic room attended by two attractive dwarf women. He swaggered around the room, showing the women the various artifacts with obvious pride.
“And here,” he said, “Is the hammer of my most noble ancestor, Wayland the sm– where the Crom is my hammer?!”
Gudmund caught him out of the corner of his eye just as Robin was just tiptoeing out. He tossed an ancient helmet at Robin, hitting him square in the back of his head.
Robin Goodfellow came to his senses in Gudmund’s throneroom. He was chained hand and foot. Gudmund sat on the throne; a smile was evident under his voluminous beard.
“At last the thief is awake!” He said.
Dwarves typically just kill hobgoblins on sight. The only reason Alfric kept Robin around was that he was useful, and deep down, he actually liked him a little—or so Robin liked to think.
“Do you know why you’re alive?” queried Gudmund.
“The ways of dwarf lords are inscrutable to simple hobgoblins.”
“You’re hardly simple. My treasure room is impenetrable, even by hobgoblin standards. Yet you broke in.” said Gudmund.
“Beginner’s luck,” said Robin, shrugging.
“You must be my cousin Alfric’s henchman, Robin Goodfellow.”
“I’m an independent contractor,” he said.
“How much is he paying you?” asked Gudmund.
“The biggest sack of gold I can carry,” said Robin.
The dwarf lord chortled and descended from his throne.
“Robin, you and I are business folk. Alfric is a craftsman; a magician, a ring-maker. I own eight forges and twelve mines—I have others who do crafty work for me. Why do I need a magic hammer? It’s useless without the magic anvil, anyway.”
“Then why do you have it?” asked Robin.
“When Wayland died, he wanted his grandsons to work together, so he bequeathed the hammer to me, and the anvil to Alfric.”
Gudmund unlocked Robin’s chains. He then handed him the hammer.
“You’re just giving it to me?” asked Robin, “What’s the catch?”
“You take this to Alfric and get paid,” said the dwarf lord.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because I’d rather have you as an ally than an enemy.”
Robin stuffed the hammer into his bag and scurried out before Gudmund changed his mind.
“How many did you have to fight?” asked one hobgoblin child, his eyes the size of saucers.
“Seventy. Maybe more,” replied Robin as he sipped his beer. It was Frigg’s night, and the pub was full of hobgoblins come to hear his tales of derring-do.
“Then I had to fight Gudmund himself in single combat. But I defeated him and took the hammer.”
Hobgoblin women gushed over his acts of bravery in the face of imposing odds. He emptied his mug and tossed a gold coin in the air. The barmaid caught it.
“Buy yourself a new smock,” he said with a wink.
Robin Goodfellow will be appearing in the epic graphic novel Legend of the Sword Bearer very soon. You can read the first chapter of Legend of the Sword Bearer at LEGENDS AND SONGS – Legend of the Sword Bearer
Image of Robin Goodfellow courtesy of the author.