Today I’m pleased to feature a fun fantasy novel by author Arthur Daigle.  This is Book 2 in the series; click here to read his hilarious Realm Explorers post about Book 1!
            We’re rich!  Run and Hide!
            Will Bradshaw is still stuck being King of the Goblins, but there’s a new threat to him and his friends.  He’s just learned that the Bottle of Hope is hidden somewhere in his kingdom.  The bottle can heal any injury or illness, a prize so great that adventurers, treasure hunters and thieves are flooding into the kingdom to steal it.  Even worse, a force of unspeakable evil is after the Bottle of Hope and seeks to destroy it.
            Facing this threat is going to take intelligence, courage and strength, qualities that goblins are short on.  But Will has already proven that his goblins are better than anyone gave them credit for.  With help from greedy witches, helpful monsters and the Bottle of Hope, Will is determined to lead them to victory again.

Author’s Contact Information:

Chapter One
A highwayman waited patiently next to a dirt road while reading a copy of Banditry for Beginners, An Introduction to Wealth Extraction (a best seller for evildoers new to the trade).  He was tall and thin, wearing threadbare clothing and a cloak, and was so dirty from weeks without bathing that the smell coming off him wilted flowers and panicked birds.  It was early morning and he’d been hiding behind an old oak tree for hours waiting for a victim to pass by, blissfully unaware of the humiliating defeat he was about to receive.

            It wouldn’t be the first time he’d been beaten.  Being so far away from a settlement wasn’t a good place to find victims, but a rival gang of thieves had pushed him away from the nearest city.  A very determined Girl Scout drove him even further away.  He’d also been chased five miles by a rabid groundhog, an event that was the source of recurring nightmares.  But that happened weeks ago, and he had a good feeling about his chances here.

            The highwayman’s patience was rewarded when a young man walked down the road.  The man had brown hair and gray eyes, and wore a green shirt, black vest, black pants, black gloves with green fingers, a black hat with a green ribbon sewn in the base, and a cape, black on the outside and green on the inside.  His clothes weren’t the height of fashion, but they were in good condition.  The highwayman smiled.  Anyone dressed well had money.
            Waiting until the young man was close enough to touch, the highwayman leapt out from behind the tree.  With a triumphant yell he reached into his grubby cloak, drawing out a battered long sword with one hand and a dagger with the other.  Pointing the sword at his victim’s chest, he shouted, “Hands in the air!”
            To the highwayman’s surprise, the man seemed more amused than frightened.  “Hi there, William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.  And who are you?”
            The highwayman stared at him, dumbfounded.  “What are you doing?”
            “Introducing myself,” his victim replied casually.
            The highwayman put his dagger away and took out his book from behind the tree.  “You’re supposed to try to run away or hand over your money when you meet a highwayman.  It says so in chapter two, right after the part about selecting a good ambush site and not being eaten by wildlife.”
            Will pointed a finger at his attacker.  “You’re a highwayman?”
            “Yes, and a dangerous one at that!”
            Still smiling, Will said, “This is a bit of good luck.  Do you have something to write on?”
            Confused, the highwayman said, “Well, there are margins in the book.  It says you can use those for taking notes.”
            “That should do,” Will said.  “I’ve been living in these parts for a few months, and the road conditions are terrible.  There are wagon ruts deep enough you could lose a cow in them, and the potholes are even worse if you can believe that.”
            Puzzled, the highwayman asked, “Potholes?”
            Will nodded.  “I know Ket Kingdom is strapped for cash, but if the roads are in bad shape then farmers and merchants can’t get to market, and that’s going to cut down on tax revenue.  Plus there’s road kill everywhere and nobody’s picking it up.  That’s a nasty job, believe me, I know, but it has to be done.”
            The highwayman waved his book.  “I don’t think you understand.  I’m a highwayman.”
            “You already said that.”
            “That doesn’t mean I work for the highway department.”  The highwayman held up his book and explained, “A highwayman is someone who robs people as they go from one place to another.  I am, in fact, robbing you.”
            “You’re a robber?” Will asked.
            “Yes,” the highwayman explained patiently, “I am a robber.”
            Will scratched his head.  He glanced at the tall grass along the road and saw shapes moving through it.  Here and there a head peeked up and a small, goofy looking face stared at the highwayman.  Will wanted to keep the highwayman’s attention on him, so he asked, “What’s it like?”
            “Oh, it’s grand!  There are plenty of advancement opportunities, you get lots of fresh air, travel to new places, and you get to meet the most interesting people and see what’s in their pockets.  Speaking of which, empty them out.”
            Will did as ordered.  The contents of his pockets included a bottle cap, a handkerchief, a handful of lint and a brochure for Eddy’s All You Can Eat Rib Roast Restaurant.  The highwayman looked at the meager offering and gave Will a suspicious glare.  “You’re joking.  That can’t be all you have.”
            “Sad but true,” Will replied.
            “You said you were a king!”
            “Yes,” Will said slowly.  “I’m the King of the Goblins.  I’d like you to think about that.  Do goblins generally have anything worth taking?”
            The highwayman rubbed his chin.  “Well, no, but you being a king I was hoping for something better than the shiny rocks you’ll find in a goblin’s pockets.”
            “I’m sorry to tell you that’s not the case,” Will said.  “The kingdom is flat broke.  The only reason we’re not in debt is the fact that nobody was crazy enough to lend us money in the first place.  You can have the lint if you want.”
            “No, you don’t get much for lint.”  The highwayman was stymied.  He had weapons and a victim, but no loot.  This didn’t come up in the book, or at least the parts he’d read.  He wished he’d bought the advanced burglary books or finished the one he had.  Then he saw something shiny hanging from Will’s belt.  A scepter!  “All right, I’ll take your scepter.  Hand it over.”
            “This?”  Will looked at his bronze scepter set with fire opals, a prize he had no intention of losing.  He glanced around and saw more shapes drift through the grass.  They weren’t very big, but there were a lot of them and they were all moving toward Will and his attacker.  They’d need a few seconds to get into place.  He had to stall the highwayman for a bit longer.  “You do realize this is a fire scepter, right?  I can turn it on pretty fast, and turn youinto 180 pounds of well done steak.”
            “You can?  Oh, it’s magic!  Yes, I heard about those, very good resale value.  Uh, let’s see…I’ve got it!  You don’t move at all, and I’ll take the scepter from you and won’t stab you.  Sound fair?”
            “Now that you mention it, no,” Will said.  “You’re sure you want to do this?  Robbing a king is a bad career move.”
            The highwayman laughed.  “You said it yourself, you’re the King of the Goblins.  Those dirty little things aren’t much of a threat.”
            “If there’s only one of them then you’re right, they’re normally not a threat,” Will conceded.  “But they do have two things going for them.”
            Curious, the highwayman asked, “What’s that?”

           “They’re very quiet when they want to be,” Will said as a mob of thirty goblins dressed in rags or miniature WW I German infantry uniforms poured out of the tall grass and ran at the highwayman.  “And there’s never only one goblin.”

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:

Arthur Daigle

Title of book and/or series:
William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins

Brief summary of the story:
            Desperate for work, William Bradshaw makes the mistake of accepting a manager position advertised by the law firm of Cickam, Wedner and Downe.  What he learns too late is his job is to ‘manage’ the goblins on the world of Other Place as their king.  Will’s goblin followers are short, stupid and mildly crazy.  Setting traps is the national pastime, and the goblins only obey orders when they feel like it.  Will is forced to remain king until he finds a loophole in the legal contract that keeps him on the job.  Forty-seven other kings have done it, so it can’t be that hard…right?
            Will’s situation gets even worse when he accidentally starts a war with the fashion obsessed human king, Kervol Ket.  Kervol is going to invade with an army including knights, siege weapons and thousands of soldiers, any one of them equal to twenty goblins.  Worse still, the goblins haven’t won a war in recorded history, and they have no interest in winning this one, either.
            But this time things are going to be different.  Will is determined to win, backed up by teeming masses of goblins, two trolls with anger management issues, a foul-tempered magic mirror and an overachieving fire scepter.  It’s going to take stealth, subterfuge and a seemingly endless supply of exploding outhouses, but this time the goblins are going to win.

Builder Goblin

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

            The Kingdom of the Goblins is easily the messiest, most blighted land on the world of Other Place.  The entire kingdom used to be a dwarf strip mine, and after many decades it is still recovering.  There is only one city and it is in terrible shape due to storm damage, the ravages of time, goblin graffiti and because the dwarfs didn’t build it well to begin with.  The ground is laced with tunnels dug during the mining boom and later by the goblins.
If we were to visit the Kingdom of the Goblins as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
            Visit?  Tourists?  If you voluntarily came to the Kingdom of the Goblins then I can only assume your travel agent has an evil sense of humor.  You should sue and/or viciously assault him with a stale loaf of French bread when you get home.
            The Kingdom of the Goblins is home to the largest maze on Other Place, a dubious distinction as it actually lowers property values in a fifty-mile radius.  There are some natural caves incorporated into the tunnel network, and the land has recovered enough to support young trees.  Visitors to the kingdom rarely want to see either of these.  Instead they come to hide from the law and dispose of incriminating evidence.

What dangers should we avoid in the Kingdom of the Goblins?
            The goblin residents don’t typically qualify as dangerous, as a grown man can take on ten and a trained soldier can fight twenty with a good chance of winning.  But goblins know this and set traps for enemies, one another and the odd insurance salesman.  Anyone fool enough to visit the kingdom will find it filled with covered pits, pie throwers and any number of other nonlethal but still annoying traps waiting for them.  These traps are replaced and reset on an hourly basis, so a place you just visited without incident could be dangerous when you come back.
Goblin Chef Brewing up a Batch of Goblin Stew

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in the Kingdom of the Goblins?

            The Kingdom of the Goblins is still recovering from its strip mining days, so animals and edible plants are rare.  This is not a problem for the goblins, as they can eat nearly anything.  Weeds, bones and old boots are all good food.  A local specialty is goblin stew, a wretched concoction made by cooking down whatever junk the goblins find in the kingdom or when raiding garbage dumps in nearby human lands.  Goblin stew is foul smelling and becomes dangerously unstable if not eaten within an hour after being cooked.  Seriously, don’t eat it.

Typically haphazard weapons and armor: 

this goblin is sporting human armor that doesn’t fit and is armed with a chair leg. 

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in the Kingdom of the Goblins?

            Material for weapons is hard to come by.  The dwarfs took everything of value before they abandoned the kingdom and let the goblins have the ruins.  Goblins favor wood, stone and vines because there are no other choices.  Most goblins use clubs and wood shields, but some steal weapons from humans.  Goblins do make rickety catapults, but these are almost as dangerous to the user and the target.
            Goblins know they are smaller and weaker than their enemies.  To get around this they favor overwhelming numbers, attacking with thirty to one odds or better.  They also build traps to incapacitate enemies, so they can hurt the enemy from far away.  Another favorite tactic is to come up through the tunnels running through the kingdom and hit enemies from surprise.  But the most favorite fighting style is to run away.  Goblins have been losing fights for thousands of years.  They’re used to it and see no shame in fleeing a losing fight.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to the Kingdom of the Goblins?
            Goblins travel by walking, or at best riding mining carts downhill.  They don’t domesticate animals and are too small to use stolen riding animals.  They typically travel at night or underground to avoid attracting attention.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter on Other Place that we don’t see on Earth?
            Other Place has a variety of races and species not native to Earth.  There are dwarfs, elves, ogres, trolls, dragons, sylphs, harpies, minotaurs, mermaids and a host of other intelligent beings.  Many of these were created by elves during the Ancient Elf Empire.  The Kingdom of the Goblins is so poor in resources and food that it is avoided by most of these beings…and because they want nothing to do with the goblins.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people on the world of Other Place?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used
            Magic is used on Other Place, but is not common, cheap or reliable.  Most magic weapons are made by dwarfs, and ever since they went corporate the quality of their work has dropped.  Assume any magic item you encounter has severe limitations.  These may include being hard to use, needing time to recharge after heavy use, or the magic item just doesn’t like you and may try to hurt you.  Magic items are also very expensive.  Many kingdoms have only a few magic items, and these are the possession of royalty.
            Wizards are few and far between.  It takes a lot of time and money to train a wizard.  This means there are never enough wizards to go around and they charge a lot for their services (partly to cover their student loans and partly to keep people away).  Rich kingdoms may have five wizards, while most have none.  Even if you can find a wizard, convince him to help and can afford his fees, you’re probably better off doing the work yourself.

Lab Rat with Stink Bombs

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in the Kingdom of the Goblins?  

            Some time ago the goblins stole books on alchemy.  Normally alchemy involves changing lead into gold, which is difficult, time consuming, expensive and doesn’t work.  But goblin alchemists, called lab rats, don’t bother with that foolishness.  They make bombs, some quite large.  These include camouflaged bombs built to resemble common object, the most popular being exploding outhouses.  These bombs are not very stable and hurt goblins as often as the intended target, but as far as the goblins are concerned that’s an acceptable tradeoff.

Pie Thrower

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in the Kingdom of the Goblins.

            Setting traps is a sport for goblins.  They love getting the rich and powerful, with political leaders a popular target, but just as often they catch another goblin with their pie throwers.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same on the world of Other Place as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
            I did not name the days or months in my story.  Goblins seldom celebrate holidays, but a few are regular events like National Annoy the King Day and the Great Goblin Yam Cookoff, an event that has surprisingly not killed anyone since it began.

Is there a particular religion practiced on the world of Other Place?  Please describe what it involves.
            Goblins seldom practice any religion, although they are generally on good terms with local religious leaders and don’t set traps in churches and temples.  Religions practiced on Other Place include two human faiths, The Brotherhood of the Righteous and the Servants of the Cause.  Dwarfs aren’t very religious people since going corporate, but some do follow the Church of the Great Maker.  Dwarf houses of worship include forges, and holy days often involve making armor, weapons and tools.  Elves are also not very religious.  Their thinking is that if God loved them they would still have their empire.  Ironically when they had their empire they weren’t religious, either, as they thought why worship God when they’d built an empire on their own.  Those elves who do worship belong to The Temple of the Perfect Way.

A Goblin Spy

What is the political or government structure in the Kingdom of the Goblins?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

            Goblins live in a sort of anarchy.  There are no rules or customs, nor any effort to enforce order.  It one goblin wants another one to follow him, he has to convince that goblin that his idea is going to be fun and not too dangerous.  Once they’re done, everyone wanders off until another goblin comes up with something new to do.  Some goblins lead crude guilds, such as warriors, builders, diggers and lab rats, but even they have limited influence over their followers.
Goblins have kings, but they are always human on the grounds that no goblin is capable of leading.  They also have to be humans from Earth, as the humans of Other Place know better than to take the job.  Goblins generally ignore their kings or irritate them.  If they obey a king it’s because he suggested they do something they want to do.  Prior to Will Bradshaw becoming king there were forty-seven other kings, including King Trevor the Loony and King Richard the Yeller.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit the Kingdom of the Goblins?

Goblins don’t hold grudges.  Whatever happened in the past can’t be changed, so they see no reason to worry about it.  This means that after the sun sets all is forgiven, no matter what you do to them or they do to you.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
            I have a lifelong love for wilderness and greatly enjoy nature programs.  A frequent feature to these programs is the damage done to our world by unchecked exploitation of our world.  Having seen some of this damage first hand in college, I can say you haven’t seen ugly until you’ve seen a strip mine.  I wanted to express this with the land the goblins live in, a place gutted of all resources and left barren.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
            There are two.  The first goes back to the issue of environmental degradation.  Land can be so devastated that it loses the ability to support life, a practice too common on our world.  The second issue is the way the little guy gets pushed around.  We’ve all been in that position, pushed around by someone with power.  But for many people on our world that describes their entire lives.  They are at the bottom of their society from birth and always will be, never having the opportunities we take for granted.  That’s what goblins are on their world, the lowest of the low, despised, ignored and forced to live on worthless land.
Author Autobiography:
            I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago.  I attended the College of DuPage and the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.  My work experience includes water quality testing, fisheries intern, working a summer at the Morton Arboretum and grading high school tests.  I am an avid gardener of edible and wild plants, and I enjoy drawing.  William Bradshaw, King of the Goblinsis my first book.  I have a sequel written but it will take some time to get into print.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book? 
            My book is available on here.  You can choose from traditional paperback or an ebook version.

Where can readers connect with you online? 
            You have some choices there.  I am available on Facebook.  I’m also on GoodReads, where I post blogs when I come up with something to say (usually once or twice a month).

            I reposted some of these blogs on under ArthurD7000.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the Kingdom of the Goblins.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy world of Faylinn in Realm Explorers Part XXV!
-Annie Douglass Lima