Wood stoves burned with great intensity keeping the water in the four stone washtubs just below boiling point. The humidity was so intense in the washroom that it made breathing, much less work, nearly impossible. Sweat beaded and poured from the small goblin rushing around to keep up with the endless laundry bags dropped off by fellow slaves.
Snotfingers wore only a dingy thin sheet around his waist in a vain attempt to keep cool in the heat. He worked the washroom alone dragging a small wooden stool from tub to tub changing out loads of linen and clothing. Standing at four and a half feet, a respectable height for a goblin, he was only a head over each washtub and needed the extra leverage the stool provided.
He went about each day cursing the mountain of laundry, blowing his nose on the finest noble clothing, and spitting large wads of mucus into the pile. His work, however, was thorough, and he never left noticeable stains behind.
He would rather work the kitchens with the perk of having access to an abundance of fine foods and his masters’ meals, but goblins were forbidden from working the kitchens. That duty was reserved solely for the gnomes. Gnomes were distant cousins of goblins – equally challenged in stature, but much easier on the eyes. They resembled a scaled down model of what humankind once looked like in ancient times; long before they had mutated into the bestial creatures they were today.
The washroom was his lot in life, and it was far better than working the mines. Here he only contended with scalding burns and the risk of drowning. Cave-ins and encounters with hostile beasts were part of the daily routine for the unfortunate slaves forced to work in the mines. He kept this always in mind as a reminder to hold his tongue around the wrong ears.
Washroom duty had its own perks he supposed. It wasn’t uncommon for Snotfingers to find trinkets and treasures left carelessly behind in filthy garments or bags of bed linen. Over the years he had collected several animal figures carved from stone, bits of parchment with writing, quills, string, a small dagger, and a few gold pieces. He hid these treasures under a loose stone in the floor near where he slept knowing he risked execution if they were ever discovered.
The hours crept along until finally night fell across the land and the final bag of laundry had been retrieved by house servants. He would have a few hours to himself before collapsing into a deep sleep and repeating his work come daylight.
His stool sat next to a small wooden bucked of water drawn early from one of the washtubs. It had been kept away from the stoves to allow it to cool throughout the day. The water was still considerably warm due to the high ambient temperature of the washroom. He cupped his hands and stole several sips of water before splashing his face.
The water felt purifying running down his long green nose and over his long pointed ears. He scrubbed away filth and sweat revealing vibrant olive colored skin beneath the layers of the day’s dirt. Daily baths were another perk of working the washroom. It felt cleansing and rejuvenating; a ritual that reminded him he was a living being.
He unwrapped the sheet from around his waist and went about his nightly ritual unaware of the sparkling violet eyes watching him with fascination.
“Ahem.” The soft feminine voice spun Snotfingers on his heels. Before him stood Moira with her raven hair done up in a ponytail and dressed in the red robes of a personal servant.
“Oh. Moira.” He gazed fondly upon the beautiful gnome. A childhood friend who was never far from his thoughts. The scent roses and wild flowers drifted from her causing his heart to beat a little faster. Her large violet eyes captivated him; made him feel weak. Her beauty, her wit, and her kindness intoxicated him. Though he would never tell her, he loved her more than life itself. It filled him with great joy that she had been chosen to be the personal servant of Medgar, Grand Archmage of Howling Keep.
Medgar was distrusted in the court for his kindness towards the lesser races, but his wisdom and power allowed him to remain unchallenged in his role. He was the only one the slaves referred to as Gods Blessed, the title mankind took after they became hybrids of animal and man. Almost every other race referred to the Blessed as the Damned, for their wickedness reflected a dressed up cruelty similar to the Undead who made their kingdoms in the darkest corners of the realm.
“Snot! Have you no shame?” Moira giggled at the dripping wet goblin. There was a playfulness in her expression. A robe and satchel hung over one arm. With a free hand she brushed loose hair from her eyes.
“No. Not really. Are you wanting me to cover up, m’lady?” he bowed with great exaggeration, sarcasm dripped from every word.
“You are horrible! I am a lady!” She smiled coyly feigning innocence. Her eyes playfully looking him up and down.
He wrapped a clean linen around his waist. “So besides trying to catch me with my trousers down, what brings you?”
“So crass!” She giggled uncontrollably for a moment. “The Grand Archmage, Medgar, sends his regrets, but asks if you would mind washing his ceremonial robe. He had spilled a bottle of ink down it while scrying. He said he knows that it is late and would consider it a personal favor. He also ask me to give you this satchel of food as his way of saying ‘thank you.'”
Snotfingers took the robe and satchel. Looking over the robe he knew it would take several hours of scrubbing, but Medgar was the only kind soul among the Blessed, and he would love nothing more than to earn his approval. “It will be ready by morning.”
“Wonderful! I knew you’d do it!” Moira giggled excitedly. “I’ll be back first thing!”
Snotfingers let out wistful sigh as Moira turned and left to deliver the good news to the Archmage. The scent of roses and wild flowers remained behind for a few moments. He inhaled deeply taking in the haunting aroma. Never had he come across a person who embodied the very essence of beauty. The task was as much for her as it was for the Archmage.
Nearly two hours later and the robe had been scrubbed clean. It was a beautiful black velvet robe with swirling accents carefully stitched in threads of silver; tailored to fit Medgar’s long and slender frame.
Most Blessed in the lands of Aurel were either a hybrid of wolf and man, or goat and man, with very few variations, but Medgar was entirely unique. His skin reflected the blue of a bright afternoon sky. His hair, always gathered and tied back, and beard were as white freshly fallen snow. From his forehead sprouted great black antlers like that of a prize buck. His eyes were onyx orbs painted with a galaxy stars. None have ever seen the likes of him in their travels through Aurel, and this leant to the distrust much of the court had for him.
Snotfingers made it a point to never mistreat Medgar’s laundry. His kindness, especially towards Moira, earned the goblin’s utmost respect, and he took extra care when laundering the archmage’s belongings. Even without the gift of food, he would have readily accepted the task without complaint.
Hanging the robes to dry, he went to the corner of the washroom where he made his bed. He rummaged through the satchel to find carefully wrapped meats, cheeses, and a flask of wine -food from Medgar’s very own table. A grand feast compared to his daily rations of stale bread and dried fish.
As he bit into a chunk of sharp cheese he found a strange item at the bottom of the satchel. A leather bound book with a silver eye printed on the cover and gold gilding along the pages. Curious he opened the book.
Blinding white light filled the room. Electricity burned through the goblin’s body. For a brief moment, which felt like an eternity, agony burned through the goblin’s body. He was thrown from his stool into the stone wall behind him. The ground rushed to break his fall. His vision blurred and the world around him wavered to and fro.
Before darkness consumed him a whisper came to his ear, “Fate has called you to change the world.”