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Once a Hero, Always a Hero

Chapter 1: Beginnings

Elgret was sitting at the kitchen table, moping around. He missed his friends, but especially Richie.

The last few months had been filled with new responsibilities. He now counted as an adult, and that meant he had to take his share of tasks that needed doing, although he had been given a brief respite beforehand. His current job was to help the teachers at the goblin school. Something he enjoyed, but there was still so much he wanted to learn himself.

He had been told by the Elders that for a time he would be required to help out wherever his assistance was required, until they knew where he would best fit in. The intention was also to give him time to come to terms with the adventures he had experienced.

At first Elgret had enjoyed being treated as an adult. It had made him feel good to see younger goblins look up to him, but now even this had grown stale. He had talked to his parents about his dream to go to Dragon University to study, however, they were not too keen on him to leave them again so soon.

“Come on, Elgret, rather than sitting there and staring holes in the table, you could help me prepare dinner”, his mother told him.

“Do I have to?”, he wanted to know miserably.

“No, you don’t. However, if you don’t then you’ll have to tell me what’s wrong!”, Algret replied.

“Oh mum... I am not sure...”, Elgret mumbled.

“Now, now. That’s no answer. Tell me what’s wrong”, his mum insisted.

“I miss my friends, especially Richie! Satisfied?”, Elgret told her grumpily.

His mother stayed quiet for a while, kneading the pastry dough, before putting it in the cooling cupboard to rest. When she came back she sat down at the table with her son, “How about you invite them all for a party? I am sure it would cheer up Fragola to see them again, too”, she suggested.

“Hmm... a party? Here?”, Elgret wanted to know.

“Yes, why not? I am sure we can put them all up... Rederk might even be persuaded to produce some more of potion to make Olblorod smaller so he’ll fit in”, his mum thought aloud.

“That’s a brilliant idea, mum. Thanks!”, Elgret got up and hugged her. “There’s one problem, though, how do I let Richie know about the party?”

“Let me think about that. How about you go and find Fragola, then you two can write the invitations”, she suggested.

Elgret went to find Fragola. Usually, she could found in the crater area where she was helping the gardeners to grow all the vegetables, fruit and herbs needed by the goblin community. It was quite a way to the centre of the Hill, but Elgret used it to think up lots of schemes on how to contact Richie. Unfortunately, none of them was feasible. He hoped his mum could come up with something, or maybe Fragola had an idea.

Finally, he reached the Hill’s gardens. It did not take him long to find Fragola, she was in her herb garden singing to the new shoots.

“Hi Fragola!”, he greeted her.

Fragola looked up, surprised to see Elgret, he did not normally come here to see her, “Hi. What’s up?”

“My mum had this brilliant idea! She said we should have a party, and invite everybody, Richie, Almor and Olblorod to come here!”, the words tumbled out of Elgret.

“A party? Yes, why not. It is a good idea! I miss them, too”, Fragola said excitedly.

“So you’re all for it, too?”, Elgret wanted to know, and when Fragola nodded enthusiastically, he continued, “Care to help me with the invitations?”

“You write them, your handwriting’s much neater than mine. I’ll decorate them, okay?”, she thought for a moment, then asked him, “What about Richie, how are you getting the invitation to him?”

“I am not sure yet... I’ve been thinking about it on the way here, but I haven’t come up with anything yet”, Elgret replied.

“I’ll think about it, too, together we’re bound to find a way!”, she consoled him.

They walked back together, it was almost dinner time anyway, and Fragola was far too excited about the party to have any patience left for her plants.

When they arrived back at the cave his mother was busy with dinner. “Oh, good you’re back, tea won’t be long”, she called out to them from a cloud of steam. “Can you lay the table? The others shouldn’t be long either.”

Elgret called back, “Have you had any ideas yet, about Richie, I mean?”

His mum shook her head, “Wait until the rest of the family is here, maybe one of them can think of something.”

Elgret looked disappointed, but set to lay the table together with Fragola. The little elf sensed his mood and tried to cheer him up, “It’ll be great to see them all again. It seems like ages since they’ve all left!”

Elgret nodded, he just wished that Richie lived at Goblin Hill or at least somewhere on his world rather than in the Otherworld. He remembered fondly how he had first met Richie. He still could not figure out what stung him to make faces at Richie. He giggled quietly to himself. This had not been in Rederk’s instructions...

Fragola wondered why Elgret was suddenly giggling, so she asked him.

“I just remembered...”, he began, “When I first met Richie, I made faces at him, instead of a greeting. His face, you should have seen his face!”, Elgret laughed out loud.

“Oh, I do remember, he told the story when you came to my grove!”, Fragola giggled.

“It will be great to see him again, if I can figure out a way to get him here!”, Elgret mused.

“Yes, and the others. I miss them all. Despite all the danger and the running, we did have a good time, didn’t we?”, Fragola asked Elgret.

He nodded, still deep in memories, “When we left on our quest, Richie had the Goblin Tooth and, the first time he went for pee, the Tooth pricked him until he came out of the bush! I was almost falling over with laughter when he told me.

“Didn’t you tell him how to use it properly?”, Fragola told Elgret off.

“Oh, I did, afterwards. I’d just forgotten to tell him... You know, he gave me the Tooth, when we parted at the Magic Fir”, an idea began to form in Elgret’s mind. “He told me to come and see him... and we were wondering if the magic would work in the Otherworld, too.”

“You mean, you’ve got the Tooth?”, Fragola cried out.

“Yep. I do. I only just remembered”, Elgret explained.

“What are you waiting for then? Go to Rederk and ask him if it’ll work!”, Fragola called out excitedly.

“No one is going anywhere. Dinner is ready!”, Algret interrupted them. “What’s all the excitement about anyway?”

“I might have an answer to my problem”, Elgret explained, “Do you remember the Goblin Tooth?”

“Do you think that it’ll work in the Otherworld?”, his mother wanted to know.

“I don’t, that’s why I wanted to go and ask Rederk”, Elgret said impatiently.

His mother shook her head, “Not now, the others will be here in a minute and then we’ll have dinner. It will have to wait until after tea.”

There was no option but to do as his mother told him, when she put on her stern voice there was nothing that would make her change her mind. Elgret sat down at the table, smiling excitedly at Fragola. She grinned back, thinking, Oh I do so hope it works. I haven’t seen Elgret that happy in months!

During dinner the rest of the family was filled in on the plans for the party. Elgret thought his dad might know if there was a chance that the Goblin Tooth might work in the Otherworld. His father was not sure either, “It might, it might. You’ll have to ask Rederk to know for sure.”

When tea was finally finished, Algret gave him a small apple pie to take with him to Rederk, “This might ensure a warmer welcome... You know how he is, always too busy to eat!”

Elgret smiled at his mum, he did indeed know how Rederk was. He remembered the last time he had gone to see Rederk with Richie. Rederk was, according to rumour, one of the greatest wizards alive; some said not just of those still alive but including those that had passed on. He could be a bit grumpy, though, and quite frightening if you did not know him better.

Elgret was in such a hurry to find out if the Goblin Tooth would work that he almost dropped the pie twice before he finally stood in front of Rederk’s door.

He knocked. Nothing. He had not really expected Rederk to react to the first know, so Elgret tried again. Nothing. After the third knock he eventually heard a grumpy voice ask, “What is it know? Can’t a wizard get a bit of peace and quiet now and again?”

“It’s me Elgret. I just have a quick question, oh, and my mum sent some apple pie”, Elgret told the still closed door.

The door opened, “Apple pie? Why didn’t you say straight away? Your mother is a dear, I always thought so!”, Rederk told him and grabbed the pie.

Elgret bit hard on his lip to suppress a grin. Even wizards can behave like greedy little boys! he thought.

“What’s your question then?”, Rederk mumbled whilst biting big chunks of apple pie.

“Will the Goblin Tooth work in the Otherworld?”, Elgret asked him.

“Weeell, I can make it work. What do you want to find in the Otherworld?”, Rederk wanted to know, crumbs going everywhere.

“Richie. I miss him, and mum suggested we all have a party. Meaning, Fragola, Olblorod, Almor, Richie and me...”, Elgret explained.

“Hmm... A party you say. It might turn out to be more than that...” Rederk chewed for a few minutes without saying anything at all. “I make a deal with you. I get your Goblin Tooth to work in the Otherworld and you accompany my new apprentice back to Goblin Hill. Alright?”, Rederk suggested.

“Ah, yes, of course. How will I know him?”, Elgret asked.

“He’ll find you. Be kind to him. He’s been through a lot, but he’ll do well enough... Good night, see you when you get back!”, Rederk said and pushed him out of the door.

“What about the Tooth?”, Elgret wanted to know.

“Oh right, forgot about that. Do you have it here?”, Rederk wanted to know.

“Yes, I brought it along”, Elgret pulled it out from under his shirt and over his head. “Here it is!”

Rederk grabbed it, trying not to drop the pie in his other hand, and mumbled a few unintelligible words over it, “There you go, all done. Off you go.”

Elgret thanked Rederk and then went back home. Humming and smiling all the way.

When he got back, Fragola had already started decorating some paper for the invitations. She had stuck on dried flowers in a lovely pattern and Elgret was very impressed.

“Good news, then?”, she asked him.

“Yes, how did you know?”, Elgret grinned.

“Tsk, one look at your face said it all.”

“Rederk put a spell on it to make it work, but I have to pick up his apprentice on the way back and bring him along”, Elgret told her.

“That’s fair enough, isn’t it?”, Fragola said, concentrating on another flower, “There. That’s it!” She held up the last card to show him.

“They’re great. I’ll write the invitations tonight, and we can send them tomorrow by pigeon. Well, except for Richie’s, I’ll hand deliver that”, Elgret told her with a beaming face.

“You do that”, Fragola laughed at him.

Elgret’s parents were pleased for him. His dad said, “At least you won’t be moping around any more. That’ll brighten up the place no end!”

The next morning Elgret handed the invitations over to the pigeon master and then he was on his way. [...]

Copyright, Sybille Sterk 2002 - 2004
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