Metal scraped against metal as the goblin convulsed. The flames grew in intensity, casting harsh shadows across the Archbishop’s face as he glared down. Janne gasped as the slaughtered goblin howled and pulled itself to its knees.
“Is letting us go, yes!” the goblin screeched. “Is holding us here no more, yes!”
Valgard held the tip of his blade to the goblin’s forehead. “I will release you when I see fit. Where is the Cardinal, the human that chased you from the Reach?”
The goblin shook its head, holding its hands up plaintively. “Is not known, yes? Is not seen when we are fleeing, yes?”
“Not good enough.” Valgard pressed the sword against the goblin’s forehead. “Tell me more or I leave you to burn.”
“No! No!” the goblin howled. “Is not fair, yes! Is all I see, yes!”
Janne hesitantly stepped forward to stand at Valgard’s side. “Your Grace…”
“Do not speak, Bishop.” Valgard’s tone was rigid and remorseless. “This is the right of the Church. Creation was given to us to use as we see fit. This is how I see fit. You will not question it.”
The goblin hissed. “Is wrong, yes! Is a lie, yes!” It fell prostrate, pressing its forehead to the ground. “Is letting me go, yes?”
The Archbishop responded by kicking the goblin hard. It flipped through the air and crashed to the ground with a whimper. “Why did you attack the Reach?” Valgard demanded savagely. “Who sent you?”
“Is the long-haired one, yes?” the goblin sniveled. “Is calling out in our sleep, yes? Is calling us to come, yes?”
Valgard shook his head in frustration. “Make sense!” he growled, stomping on the goblin’s chest. “What do you mean, the long-haired one?”
“Is one like you, yes?” it moaned. “Is having hair like night, touching the ground, yes!”
Valgard gritted his teeth, his sword quivering like a coiled viper ready to strike. “You worthless, pathetic worm! How dare you lie to me!”
The goblin didn’t stir from its curled position on the ground. “Is true, yes?” Janne was sure the miserable creature was sobbing. “Is true, yes? Is not wanting to burn forever, yes?”
“You deserve worse.” The Archbishop paused, face creased in thought, before lifting the sword over his head. “I withdraw my judgment from you. I leave your fate in the hands of God; may he find that you kept your oaths.”
The goblin twitched again as the flames danced and swirled off the corpse and through the night air. They wrapped themselves around Valgard’s blade and gently winked out of existence. The strange metal goblin lay lifeless in the scorched dirt. To Janne, the monstrosity seemed to be at peace.
Asgeir’s voice broke the sudden silence. “Milady? I still need that torch.”
“Oh!” Janne looked down, surprised to see the burning brand still in her hands. “Of course. My apologies.”
“None needed, milady.” Asgeir’s voice was calm and gentle. “We do have a job to do, however.”
Janne nodded and joined the page. Valgard did not move, did not flinch, did not take his eyes off the strange metal goblin until Janne and Asgeir dragged it away to be properly burned with the others.