Arsha, Gorfanth, and Foresna woke up the next day. This time, waking up was slow-going. They partied a bit too hard during the previous night. “Morning…” groaned Foresna.
“Not ‘Good Morning’?” snarked Arsha as she rubbed her eyes.
“Don’t talk,” moaned Foresna. “My head’s currently trying out for egg-cracking auditions.”
“The morning is EVIL!” hissed Gorfanth as they all got out of bed and shuffled to Barmek’s. Mr. Barmek greeted them at the door again. They all ordered the Up-and-at-‘em special and sat at their table. As they ordered, Endea skipped in, beaming happily. When he finished taking their orders, Mr. Barmek returned to the door.
“Good Morning!” she cheered.
“Good Morning!” returned Mr. Barmek. “You’re taking the Engineer’s test today, right?”
“That’s right!” confirmed Endea. “The instant I pass, I’m getting a paycheck and working as an Engineer with the rank of lieutenant! I told Realmfleet about the meals I had and they’ll add it to my first paycheck so I can pay it off in one fell swoop!”
“Then you need some brain food,” declared Mr. Barmek. “I have just the dish for you!”
“Then I’ll have it!” replied Endea.
“Ship on table 4 needs Haldebor sausage patties,” called Mr. Barmek to Jaltor, “Dwelga scrambled eggs, Greshkagh toast with peanut butter, and a cup of Crelima coffee! Captain and her fiancées on table 6 each need Galdredan sausage, a slice of Galthar Elf toast with Drelda Fae honey, and a hot cup of Haldebor coffee with Rooka sugar!”
“Good-luck special for Endea on table 4 and three up-and-at-‘em specials for the Captain and her fiancées on table 6!” replied Jaltor. “Coming up!”
“So, what’s on the agenda for today, Foxy?” asked Foresna.
“Got a mission in Dwelga,” replied Arsha. “We’re picking up an important figure in Goblin society.”
“Sorry, did I hear you right?!” yelped Mr. Barmek as he and Mrs. Barmek came by with their orders. “Dwelga?!”
“The same place we ran from after we were stripped of our fortunes?!” continued Mrs. Barmek.
“I understand your feelings,” replied Arsha, “but this mission was requested by the Imperium itself. The Goblin practically demanded this ship assist them.”
“Oh boy,” muttered Mr. Barmek.
After breakfast, Endea made her way to her new quarters and cracked her knuckles. She turned on her computer, found the site she needed, then keyed in a command that brought the Engineer’s test up. A virtual instructor appeared. “Welcome, Endea, to the Engineer’s test,” began the instructor. “Thangred has already informed me that you have completed the practical and now need to do the written portion. You have 15 questions to answer and each question must be about a paragraph long. Each paragraph needs to be long enough to fully explain your answer, so take your time. You will need to correctly answer 13 questions to pass. Click on the check mark to begin.” Endea did so. “Your written test begins. Good luck!” The screen then went to the first question and Endea read it multiple times to understand it.
“Let’s see, broken maho-link…” mused Endea.
While she took the test, Nazay flew the Endeavor out of the water and over to Dwelga, the Goblin city-state at the Central Continent’s northwestern corner. The trip took about an hour before the ship landed. When it did, the ramp lowered and Arsha, Denstra, and Bashoon walked down the ramp. “Why would this Goblin want to see me?” gulped Bashoon.
“He’s asked for you by name,” replied Denstra. “We need to figure out why.” The three looked down the path to see an important looking Goblin man approaching them. Recognition hit them like a freight train. “Well, I’ll be damned!” chuckled Arsha.
“I never realized how important this Goblin was!” remarked Denstra.
“Now I REALLY need to get out of his sight!” gulped Bashoon. “Why did he ask for us?!” The Goblin then stopped in front of the three ladies. Two were in awe, one was in fear.
“Grand Treasurer Penshek Tolshoon!” greeted Arsha. “We’re honored by your presence. I am Arsha Royana, Captain of the Endeavor. This is my First Officer, Denstra Welmeva, and I believe you said you wanted to see the first Goblin to enter Realmfleet? May I present Ensign Bashoon Barmek.”
“I was just about to…” stammered Bashoon.
“Ah, yes, Barmek,” rumbled the important Goblin, Penshek. “A family that argued against what we did in Falgreth a year ago. A family that lost its fortunes. A family that gained profit outside of the Imperium’s Guidelines!” Bashoon looked to the ground, feeling publicly shamed. “…A pleasure to meet you,” greeted Penshek in a tone of friendliness. Bashoon looked directly at Penshek in surprise. “Your seeking profit outside the Guidelines of the Imperium sparked a profit revolution! Anyone who’s an enemy of the Old Guard,” he held out his hand, “is a friend of mine!” Bashoon’s surprise made her a bit slow in accepting the handshake. When she did, she was beaming like a giddy fangirl.
“This is a tremendous honor!” she cheered.
“The honor is mine,” returned Penshek. He then turned to the Captain. “Permission to come aboard?”
“Granted,” replied Arsha. The four then returned to the ship and walked to Barmek’s. “I have a feeling you’ll want to see her parents,” mused Arsha.
“Of course,” agreed Penshek.
Barmek’s was experiencing a slow-down, as expected. The morning rush had finished and there were still a few hours before the lunch rush. It was a perfect time to clean. Mr. Barmek had just finished cleaning off the tables and Jaltor had finished with the floors. They went to assist Mrs. Barmek with the stoves and ovens. As they cleaned, Jaltor got a message on his communicator. “Huh,” he mused as he read it. “It’s Denstra.”
“What does your wife need?” asked Mrs. Barmek.
“She says that she, the Captain, and Bashoon are bringing someone called Penshek Tolshoon here,” replied Jaltor.
“PENSHEK?!” yelped Mr. and Mrs. Barmek. Just then, the four aforementioned people entered the restaurant.
“Daddy!” called Bashoon.
“We were just closing up!” gulped Mr. Barmek.
“Join us, Daddy,” urged Bashoon. “You and Mom need to meet our family hero!
“We really don’t!” insisted Mrs. Barmek. “Our presence will make the Grand Treasurer uncomfortable! I don’t know if you’ve forgot, but we’re outcasts amongst most Goblins!”
“And what I have to say,” interjected Penshek, “will force the Imperium to recognize you as the heroes you are.”
“…Beg pardon?” asked Mrs. Barmek.
“She and I are equally confused,” remarked Mr. Barmek.
“We’ve started a profit revolution!” explained Bashoon. “Goblins are seeking profit outside the Guidelines! More Goblins are requesting to serve in Realmfleet!”
“…You’re kidding!” breathed Mr. Barmek.
“She’s not,” assured Penshek. “I have the reports to prove it!” He pulled out a pad of papers and presented them to the Barmeks. The two looked at the reports, then beamed with pride.
“Well, well!” chuckled Mrs. Barmek. “I had no idea!”
“Jaltor, Penshek needs Galdredan spaghetti, Grilthan salad, and a Dwelga milkshake!” called Mr. Barmek.
“Hero’s Welcome special, coming up!” called Jaltor. As Penshek reached for his wallet, Mr. Barmek stopped him.
“No need for that!” he yelped. “It’s on the house!”
“I insist. You need the money more than I do,” countered Penshek. Mr. Barmek was about to object, then he remembered a Goblin proverb, “Never refuse a gift from the Grand Treasurer.” He accepted the money and they all sat at a table.
“Daddy’s a great admirer of yours,” Bashoon revealed.
“Are you, now?” chuckled Penshek.
“Yes,” confirmed Mr. Barmek. “I’ve read stories about your accomplishments. Your negotiation of the Togoo Pass, your liquidation of the False Guard, your confrontation with Rellmeer…”
“All that I’ve done pales in comparison to what I’m about to do,” interrupted Penshek. “I’ve requested this ship so you and they may help me on my Quest.”
“Your Quest?” asked Mrs. Barmek. “You mean, like an actual capital ‘Q’ Quest?”
“Exactly!” confirmed Penshek. “I am on a Quest for the most revered icon in Goblin history! An icon that predates the Imperium!”
“Er, Mr. Tolshoon,” gulped Bashoon.
“An icon more sacred than the Hat of Gold!” continued Penshek.
“Penshek!” hissed Denstra.
“More revered than Stangell’s Gloves! More coveted than the Chancellor’s Robes of Office!” Penshek went on.
“…The Scale Sword of Yunshul?!” gasped Bashoon’s parents.
“The same!” confirmed Penshek.
“You told us not to tell anyone!” reminded Arsha.
“They guessed!” replied Penshek.
“HEY! Hero’s Welcome special for Penshek! It’s getting cold here!” called Jaltor. Mr. Barmek yelped and dashed to the counter to retrieve the meal. When he returned, he had an apologetic smile. Penshek’s smile was one of understanding.
“I forgot about it too,” he replied. “No apologies needed.” As he wound his spaghetti with his fork, he continued. “I know where the sword rests. Think of the glory! The honor of finding the sword of the first Goblin that took up arms and successfully defended Dwelga!”
“Lost since before the First Age of Unity!” sighed Mrs. Barmek as she imagined the fame that would come with such a find. “Its return would change Goblin history!”
“If you know where it is,” called Mr. Barmek, “we MUST return it!”
“We?” asked Penshek. Mr. Barmek sensed the impropriety of his assumption and corrected himself.
“It would be an honor to join your Quest, if you’ll have me,” he explained.
“We could use his keen eyes,” mused Arsha.
“His eyes and the eyes of his wife and daughter!” declared Penshek. “I would have all three Barmeks! Besides, on top of their keen eyes and stout hearts being useful, having them return the Sword would annoy the Old Guard! They would have no choice but to call the Barmeks ‘heroes’!” He then took a bite of his meal and hummed his approval.
“To see the Scale Sword returned to our people,” sighed Mrs. Barmek, “I would give my soul for that chance!”
“They’ll write Profit Poems for centuries!” urged Penshek after he swallowed. “Children will sing our names for millennia! Our golden busts will be on the Wall of Heroes for all eternity!”
“Before you decide on an expression for those busts,” interjected Denstra, “we need to find the sword first. What makes you think it still exists?”
“This!” declared Penshek as he pulled a piece of cloth out of his pocket. He laid it on the table. “There. You see?” asked Penshek.
“I’ve got a Neko’s movement-only vision,” replied Denstra. “Anything standing still is just blurry. What am I supposed to be seeing?”
“The imprint on the cloth,” urged Penshek.
“Yes!” realized Bashoon. “This was the shroud that held the Scale Sword of Yunshul!”
“Don’t be so sure,” countered Arsha. “You could carpet the entire ship with all the ‘authentic shrouds’ that people tried to peddle over the Ages.”
“No one tried to peddle this! It was given to me!” insisted Penshek.
“By whom?” asked Arsha.
“I’ll tell you, Bashoon, and your entire Senior Staff once we get underway!” promised Penshek. “Right now, I need you to confirm its authenticity!”
“All right,” declared Arsha. “I’ll have Elmar look it over in the morning.”
“Why not now?!” protested Bashoon.
“Right now,” replied Arsha, “the ship’s refueling as well as taking the Engineer’s test and I need to check up on her. You, Penshek, need some rest.”
“Oh, absolutely!” agreed Penshek. “As soon as I finish my meal. May you be forever wealthy!”
“May you be forever wealthy,” bid Arsha as she and Denstra got up. Penshek then turned to the Barmeks.
“Imagine the look on the Chancellor’s face when we present the sword to him!” he chuckled. The Barmeks joined in his laughter.
Denstra stopped by her quarters while Arsha arrived at Endea’s door. She rang the chime. “Come in,” called Endea’s tired voice. Arsha entered the room to see Endea lying faceup on the bed.
“How was it?” asked Arsha as she pulled up a chair.
“Long, tedious, brain-wrecking,” replied Endea.
“Oh dear,” sighed Arsha.
“I don’t want to go through that torture again!” groaned Endea.
“So…you didn’t…?” asked Arsha, fearing the worst.
“Oh, no, I got 14 out of 15 right,” replied Endea as she pointed to her computer screen. Arsha looked at the results as a congratulations message looped.
“Well done, Endea!” cheered the instructor. “Only one answer wrong? That’s impressive! You’ll definitely go far! Congratulations, you have proven that you are worthy of being an Engineer with the rank of Lieutenant!”
“Congrats!” cheered Arsha. “Has Thangred been told this yet?”
“Not yet,” replied Endea. “I’ll tell him after my nap.”
“All right,” affirmed Arsha. “Then, after you tell him, I need you to prepare for a Quest.”
“You got it,” confirmed Endea as she flopped onto the bed, then shut her eyes and snored. Arsha crept quietly out of the room and shut the door to let Endea rest.