Jim C. Hines Goblin Hero (Goblin Series)

ISBN 13: 9780756404420

Goblin Hero (Goblin Series)

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9780756404420: Goblin Hero (Goblin Series)

After barely surviving an adventure he never wanted, the scrawny little nearsighted goblin called Jig is now known as Jig Dragonslayer, and has the power of healing, thanks to the forgotten god he worships. But being a hero isn't all it's cracked up to be. Not when the goblin leader wants him dead, and everyone else actually expects him to keep doing heroic-and incredibly dangerous-things.

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About the Author:

Jim C. Hines has been a paid juggler, earned a black belt in two different martial arts, performed yo-yo tricks at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and lived with a brain-damaged squirrel. (Only three of those are true.) One of his earliest stories earned first place in the Writers of the Future contest. He’s published more than forty short stories as well as numerous fantasy novels, including the humorous Jig the Dragonslayer trilogy, the Princess series, which re-imagines traditional fairy-tale princesses as butt-kicking action heroines, and the Magic Ex Libris series, about a centuries-old secret society dedicated to the use and control of book magic. In 2012, he won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife, two children, and an unstable number of pets. He can be found online at www.jimchines.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Acknowledgements

 

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

JIG NEVER WANTED TO BE A HERO—

He would have been perfectly happy just not to be pummeled on a daily basis. But after being kidnapped and dragged off on a quest adventure, he had inadvertently become a legend. And while he no longer got pummeled, he did get the jobs no one else wanted—the dangerous jobs.

So it was inevitable that when there was a threat to the whole mountain down in the part once claimed by the Necromancer and the Dragon—both now dead thanks to Jig—he was the one they’d expect to clean up the mess.

Burdened with some truly pitiful companions, and led by an ogre who’d made it all too clear what the price of failure would be, Jig went off to face certain death.

Actually, he was almost looking forward to dying. After all, that seemed to be the only way he’d ever convince anyone that he really wasn’t any kind of hero at all . . . .

JIM C. HINES’

 

Jig the Goblin Series:

 

 

GOBLIN QUEST (Book One)

GOBLIN HERO (Book Two)

Copyright © 2007 by Jim C. Hines.

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

DAW Book Collectors No. 1400.

 

DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

 

 

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

Nearly all the designs and trade names in this book are registered trademarks. All that are still in commercial use are protected by United States and international trademark law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Printing, May 2007

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA
HECHO EN U.S.A.

 

 

.S.A.

eISBN : 978-1-101-00766-2

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am absolutely delighted to share Goblin Hero with you all. Poor Jig wasn’t thrilled at the idea of another adventure, but that’s his problem. As with the first book, this one wouldn’t have happened without the help and support of a great many people.

First and foremost, my thanks to Sheila Gilbert, my editor. Not only does she demonstrate tremendous insight and great judgment in buying my books, but her suggestions on Goblin Hero have made it a far better story. Thanks also to Debra Euler and the other wonderful people at DAW Books.

Mel Grant has done it again, creating another amazing cover.

My agent, Steve Mancino, deserves a huge round of applause (not to mention pizza) for all his hard work. Not only did he help sell the goblin books to DAW, but thanks to Steve, you can also find Jig the goblin in Russia, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Just in case you wanted your own copy of ΠpΙΙκJIΙ чеΙΙЯ ΓобJIΙΙна.

Then there are the terrific people who read and critiqued my early drafts, particularly Catherine Shaffer, Heather Poppink, Mike Jasper, and Teddi Baer. Not to mention all my virtual pals who read the occasional snippet and offered support and encouragement.

To my wife, Amy, and to my own little goblins, Skylar and Jamie, your love and support mean more to me than I could ever say.

Finally, my humble thanks to all my readers. I’m both honored and thrilled to be able to share the second goblin book with you. I hope you enjoy it.

The Song of Jig (to the tune of the wizard drinking song “Sweet Tome of Ally Ba’ma”)

Heroes entered the darkness,
A dwarf, an elf, and two men,
Seeking fame, seeking glory,
Slaying goblins as they went.

 

But one lone goblin dodged their blades and
their bow.
That lone goblin, he survived.
They tied him up, to be their guide down below,
But Jig’s the only one who came out alive.

 

Hail, Jig Dragonslayer.
His sword is strong, his aim is true.
Hail, Jig Dragonslayer.
Treat him well, or he might slay you too.

 

Jig led them down through the darkness,
To the realm of the dead,
Where corpses leaped from the shadows
And the heroes nearly lost their heads.

 

Jig the goblin did not cower.
His sword is strong, his aim is true.
No, Jig the goblin did not cower.
He drew his sword and ran the Necromancer
through.

 

So Jig, he led those heroes deeper,
To the darkness where the dragon dwelled.
Steam was rising from his night black scales,
And his eyes were pits from hell.

Hail, Jig Dragonslayer.
His sword is strong, his aim is true.
Hail, Jig Dragonslayer.
While others fled, Jig grabbed a spear, and he
threw.

 

Hail, Jig Dragonslayer.
His sword is strong, his aim is true.
Jig finished off that beast of hell.
Then he finished off those heroes too.
So treat him well, or else he might slay you.

CHAPTER 1

“How come goblins never live happily ever after?”

—Jig Dragonslayer

 

 

 

Jig the goblin was no warrior. His limbs were like blue sticks, his torn ear tended to flop to the side, and his fangs barely stretched up past his upper lips. As a child he had been relegated to muck duty, hauling caustic sludge through the goblin lair to fill the fire bowls that illuminated the cavern. The putrid, rotting-plant smell of muck would seep into his clothes, his hair, even his skin. And muck duty was far from the worst he had survived. He tried not to think about his time cleaning privies.

His grand quest a year ago hadn’t changed him. Well, except for the nightmares about the dragon Straum coming back to eat him, or the Necromancer casting a spell to wither Jig’s body until it crumbled to dust, or giant carrion-worms crawling into his bed-roll and—

Jig shook his head, trying to banish those images. Suffice it to say, he was still the same nearsighted runt he had been before. But he had emerged from the dragon’s lair with one potent gift: the ability to heal various injuries.

Given the nature of goblin life, this made Jig one of the busiest goblins in the lair.

His current patient, a muscular goblin named Braf, was everything a goblin warrior should be. Strong, tall, and dumb . . . even for a goblin. Somehow Braf had managed to wedge his own right fang deep inside his left nostril.

Jig shook his head. Braf raised stupidity to new heights, then threw it down to shatter on the earth below.

A dirty rag looped around Braf’s jaw held the fang still. Blood and other fluids turned the rag dark blue. Braf gingerly wiped his nose on his wrist, momentarily halting the seepage. He stared at the goo on his hand, then wiped it on his too-tight leather vest.

“Can you fix it?” Braf said, his voice muffled and nasal.

“Don’t talk,” Jig said. He closed his eyes. How much longer?

Tymalous Shadowstar, forgotten god of the Autumn Star, stifled a giggle only Jig could hear. I’m sorry, I’m doing the best— The god’s voice dissolved into jingling laughter.

Jig had discovered Tymalous Shadowstar during that adventure a year before. Or maybe Shadowstar had discovered Jig. Shadowstar was the one who gave Jig the power to heal the other goblins. What Shadowstar got out of the deal, Jig still wasn’t sure. There were days he thought Shadowstar did it purely for his own amusement.

How did he do this to himself anyway? Shadowstar asked between giggles.

Braf’s not exactly the sharpest blade in the armory, Jig said. But I’m guessing he had help. Someone had tied those bandages on to Braf’s head. Had Braf tried to do it, he probably would have hanged himself.

Goblins. Why did it have to be goblins?

It was a complaint Jig had listened to ever since he discovered the forgotten god. Now was when Jig would traditionally try to defend his people, to point out the things they had accomplished in the past year. Things like achieving a shaky truce with the hobgoblins deeper in the mountain, and sealing off the outer tunnel to protect them from adventurers.

Yet when he looked at Braf, Jig couldn’t find it in himself to speak up on behalf of the goblins.

I think I’m ready now, said Shadowstar.

“Good.” Jig crossed the small temple, trying to ignore the mosaic on the ceiling. Bits of colored glass formed an image of the forgotten god, a tall, pale man dressed in black, with silver bells striping his arms and legs. Sour smoke from the muck lanterns floated around the image, never quite reaching the pale face. The face had a definite smirk, one that hadn’t been there earlier in the day.

Jig placed his hand over Braf’s nose and tried not to grimace. Goblins had never been known for their attractiveness, and Braf was a spectacular example of why. Old disease scars dotted his skin, and his misshapen nose looked a great deal like a pregnant frog that had settled in the center of his face.

Shadowstar started to snicker again. Now it looks like a frog with a huge yellow fang up its—

“Hold still,” said Jig. He tilted Braf’s head back and slipped one finger beneath the bandage as he waited for the magic to start. The flow of Shadowstar’s power through Jig’s body always made him feel bloated, and he shifted uncomfortably as the magic warmed his hands.

Before he could do anything more, a glowing orange insect landed on his arm and began to creep forward. Jig yanked his hand back. The last thing he needed was for a bug to crawl up Braf’s nose. He swatted it, splattering glowing bug goo over his arm, even as two more of the pests buzzed around his head.

“What are they?” Braf asked.

“I don’t know. They started showing up a few weeks ago.” Jig waved his hands, trying to bat them toward the spiderweb in the corner of the temple. “And stop talking!”

The bugs drew back. Jig slapped his free hand over Braf’s swollen nose.

Slowly, Shadowstar warned.

A hair’s breadth at a time, Jig slid the offending fang out of the nostril. He tried very hard to ignore the fluids that followed, coating Jig’s hands with blue slime. He also ignored the feel of the fang moving beneath the nostril, the way the tooth scraped against the bone.

Braf’s eyes crossed. The warmth in Jig’s hands increased. His fingers felt like swollen tubers, and the orange bugs were circling Braf’s head. Jig’s arms tingled.

Got it, Shadowstar said.

Jig slid the tip of the fang free, and there was a loud popping sound as the jawbone slipped back into the socket. Jig swung one hand at the bugs. He missed, and the motion splattered blood across Shadowstar’s mosaic.

Braf sneezed. He touched his nose, and a broad grin split his blood-crusted face. “Thanks, Jig!”

Blood, spit, and snot had misted Jig’s spectacles. He slipped them off and wiped the lenses on his pants. “So how did you do this to yourself?”

“I was on guard duty,” Braf said. “My partner bet me I couldn’t touch my nose with my fang. When I won the bet, he punched me in the jaw.”

A shining example of the goblin race, Shadowstar commented.

“I guess you showed him,” Jig said.

Braf laughed. “Yeah.” He scratched his chin and turned to go. As he stooped through the low doorway, he hesitated. “Hey, don’t tell anyone I came to you. Some of the other goblins don’t like you that much, and I don’t want them to—”

“To think you’ve been coming to the runt for help?” Jig asked, his voice tight. Nearly every goblin had needed Jig’s help at one time or another over the past year, but not one wanted to admit it.

“Yeah!” Braf beamed. “That’s right. Thanks!” He disappeared down the tunnel before Jig could find anything to throw at him. Some things never changed. No matter how many goblins he healed, no matter how many quests he survived, he was still Jig the scrawny, half-blind runt.

Jig sat down on the altar. A dark, red-spotted fire-spider the size of Jig’s hand crept up the side and scurried toward him. Jig straightened his arm so the spider could climb onto the singed leather pad Jig wore strapped to his right shoulder. Fire-spiders grew hot when threatened, and Jig had the burns to prove it. Despite the scars, Smudge still made a better companion than most goblins.

“It’s not that bad,” Jig said to Smudge. “They can’t afford to kill me. Who would fix their wounds?”

He glanced at the blood on his trousers and sighed. Another improvement from a year ago was the quality of Jig’s clothes. Jig had spent most of his adult life in a ratty old loincloth so stiff he could have used it for a shield. Now he wore soft gray trousers and a loose black shirt. His old sword hung at his side, and he had his favorite boots on. The leather was bright blue, with red flames painted down the side and white, furry fringe on top.

Most importantly, he had his spectacles. Large, amethyst lenses covered his eyes, letting him see the world as clearly as any goblin, except for his peripheral vision where the lenses didn’t quite cover. Steel frames kept them hooked over his pointed ears. They weren’t perfect, and the frames irritated his bad ear, which had been torn and scarred in a fight with another goblin. But being able to see the world around him was worth a little pain.

Recently Shadowstar had suggested another addition to his wardrobe: socks. It had taken a long time to persuade one of the children to weave a pair of cloth tubes, then sew them shut at one end, but the result was literally a gift from the gods. No more blisters, no more dark blue marks on his legs where the dye from his boots rubbed off, and best of all, his boots didn’t smell quite so horrid when he took them off.

“Jig?”

The voice came from the darkness of the tunnels, but Jig recognized it. “What do you want, Veka?”

Veka stepped into the temple, drawing her long black cloak tight around her considerable bulk. Broad-shouldered and thick-limbed, she had sent more than one goblin to Jig with missing teeth or ...

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