To Eyon’s surprise, they came across a small group of goblin arquebusiers amid the tall grasses, apparently reinforcements that had been thrown in willy-nilly. With a cry of “Ane, ctonb!” one of the goblins wearing the White Smile swung at Eyon with an empty and crudely-made gun. Eyon was able to bring his own sword up in time to parry the blow, and with a twist of his wrist he was able to hurl the gun out of the goblin’s hands.

Disarmed, it glared at him. “Go on then, ctonb,” it muttered. “Finish it.”

“No,” said Eyon. “I’ve no quarrel with you, good sir goblin.”

“Young master,” said Gob. “As Gob is sure the elder master already knows, you must follow through and do as this gob asks.”

“What? Why?” Eyon cried. “The rightful king must be merciful. King Eyon IV won’t be called a butcher, or a murderer.”

“Which is more a mercy, young master: to let this gob die in battle, keeping its name or even earning one if a witness survives, or being cast down and nameless in defeat?”

“It is the Code of the Gobs,” the disarmed arquebusier said. His comrades, all of them wounded, nodded, even as some whispered about Eyon’s reference to himself as king. “The gytoh would show no mercy in his sparing.”

“Just ignore them,” Gullywick said. “We need to get out of here, Eyon! We’ve no time to bother with these twigs!”

“Live on and fight another day,” said Eyon. “No one would think less of you or strip you of your name for bad luck.”

“The gobs are stained with the sin of their creation and must therefore earn the right to all which they possess,” replied the disarmed gunner. “Gobs must earn names and pronouns for themselves through their actions. Only gobs who have earned a name will be remembered to their families and to history. The Code of the Gobs.”

“The Code of the Gobs,” the other wounded repeated.

“I won’t do it,” Eyon said. “I won’t strike down an unarmed foe, goblin or not.”

“Then you force me to do what the gytoh refuses out of cowardice,” snarled the goblin gunner. He snatched up the lit match on his shattered arquebus and tucked it into the vest he was wearing. It had looked like armor, but up close it became apparent that it was a simple leather harness with metal tubes in it, each with a charge of powder and shot for the goblin to pour into his gun to make reloading easier. With the burning charge, he limped out a few paces and seized the leg of a passing Ioxan attacker.

A moment later, the charges on his chest detonated. Goblin and foe vanished forever in the explosion together.

“Mabl eyp hame tnbe lopebep, tog,” his fellows, all too wounded to do the same, cried. “Your name will be remembered!”

“What?” Eyon cried. “Why did he do that?”

“There is no time for that, young master,” Gob said. “The young master had his chance to act and he did not. We must get him to safety in the trees.”

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