A little something for my D&D players. Not for the squeamish.
Swords and grocery shopping don’t usually go together. But how many people keep an Excalibur replica by the garage door? And how often does a shaking bush signify anything more than a cat on the prowl?
Tomorrow was D&D day. Naturally, D&D players like meat, lots of it, at least my group does. I’d told everyone we were going to have stew. No complaints there. But something caught my eye while perusing my cookbooks: leg of lamb, a seven hour braise to be exact. That sounded beyond succulent and as luck would have it Zuppan’s had a leg of lamb at the meat counter earlier in the day. Alas, legs of lamb apparently fly off the shelf. Or is that run off? In any case, it was no longer there and my shopping list was most leg-of-lamb oriented.
Settling for beef and some ad hoc veggies it was back home to flip through the monster manual for something appropriate for a Valentine’s themed game. Since I can name the monsters better than my children, I wasn’t looking forward to that exercise. There’s not too much lovey-dovey in the monster manual, except maybe nymphs. Or a succubus, perhaps that would do. My wife was playing a succubus in a live-action-role-playing game when I met her. But that’s another story.
I set the grocery bag by the front door and fumbled at the door lock. Whoever had designed my house had cleverly made sure the only shadow cast by the porch light covered the lock. The key finally slipped in. A bush at my right rustled. Was it a cat? Or maybe a skunk? We don’t really have many ornery critters in Oregon. Had to be a cat. A cat with big, glowing red eyes. My throat tightened. Whatever it was, it could stay outside. The groceries and I were going inside.
I popped the door open a crack, snatched the bags and darted in. So did the… the thing. Bounding on thick legs, it snapped forward, pried the door wide with spidery fingers and jumped past me. It only came to my waist but it looked, well, mean. And if it was a monkey, it was a green, hairless one with a toothy maw that might take a small pumpkin in one bite. It had spindly arms and a big, round head that seemed too heavy for its skinny neck. It opened its mouth and chortled: a wet, bubbly chortle.
The groceries fell from my hands.
Snap, snap, snap, went its teeth as its smacked its mouth. Its big, red eyes narrowed. It made a grin wide enough to slice its head in half. It looked, well, it had to be a goblin. Yes, I know there are no goblins, not outside the monster manual. But lest you assume I was thinking of goblins at the time, the exercise at hand for my D&D game was a Valentine’s Day-ish critter. I was thinking of a scantily clad, bat-winged succubus (or maybe an erinyes). Goblins were nowhere near my febrile imagination. I, on the other hand, did appear to be on its menu plan.
It hopped forward, its gaping grin almost mesmerizing.
I back against the garage door behind me. It swung open; I must not have closed it all the way earlier. I fell backwards into the garage, failing with my arms as I landed on my ass. No, I didn’t accidentally grab Excalibur as I fell but I did send it clattering.
The goblin hopped back at the sound of ringing metal. Did I leap to my feet, grabbing said blade? No, this veteran of decades of D&D games sat on his butt, shivering at the goblin tipping-toeing towards him. Snap, snap, snap, went its teeth.
Could I convince it I was way too fatty to eat? No, probably not going to work. The sword lay beside me. It didn’t even really have an edge, it was a replica after all. There was the Goodwill pile nearby. Old sweater? Books? Stack of empty frames. Snap, snap, snap.
I grabbed the sword. The goblin leaped at me. I swung with all my might. Maybe I could stun it and lock it in the garage. Maybe.
I missed, my blow twirling me around, rolling me clear of the goblin. My sword smashed into the ground and shattered. There went $295 dollars. Now I wielded Anduril, the Anduril from before it was reforged. Woohoo. The goblin jumped again. I didn’t have much else I could do. I slashed at it with my stump of a sword.
There was a shriek like a cat being microwaved (no, I’ve never done that, honest, I’m just guessing). Anyway, Anduril succeeded where Excalibur failed. The jagged blade sliced its leg clean off. In the movies, it would have kept clawing and biting until the bitter end but a leg severed at the hip is not a good thing, even for goblins. It gasped a few times, tried to crawl away, and then died.
I lay panting on the floor until the spreading pool of blood reached me. Yuck.
What was I going to do with a dead goblin? Could I sell the corpse to the tabloids? But the whole thing seemed too awful. I just wanted to be done with it. It was small. I could wrap it up in a few plastic bags and pitch it in the trash. The Goodwill clothes could mop up the blood.
So that’s what I did. I got the body in a bag. Mopped up the blood. Chucked it in the trash bin. Then I saw the severed leg. Nothing another bag wouldn’t take care off. Thing was, that severed leg kind of looked like that leg of lamb that had run off.
“This has got to be the best leg of lamb I’ve ever had,” Chris said. “What’s the secret?”
“It’s goblin leg.”