Chapter Thirty-One: Tibo
Goblin to Goblin
“Hush, hush, peace, Tiborishandelac. He was past his limit. I’ve merely helped him sleep.”
“Sleep?” Tibo swallowed hard against the anguished wail that wanted out.
“Yes. He needs to rest, my dear. Put him over on the chaise, if you like.” Chumin indicated the long piece of furniture on the wall opposite the window. It looked like a thing they used to call a fainting couch, but it was long enough for Rolly. “There are blankets in the chest there. I often sleep here myself when I’ve not the energy to brave the stairs in the evening.”
Still shaking, Tibo took Rolly under the arms and half-carried, half-dragged him over, huffing and grunting as he got Rolly’s long limbs up on the chaise. There were a selection of blankets in the cedar chest, as promised, and Tibo picked one of soft angora in a dark green. It was a stupid thing to worry about but he didn’t want it clashing with Rolly’s hair.
Tibo lingered a moment to brush the hair back from Rolly’s eyes. He was breathing fine and he looked so peaceful. Okay, fine. Elders do usually know best.
“Thank you,” he murmured as he returned to his chair.
“De nada, my dear. This does give us a chance to speak amongst ourselves, though. Goblin to goblin.”
“Yes, sir.” Tibo picked his own teacup up again, sniffing the contents, though he didn’t feel off or dizzy.
“It was only for the McFarland,” Chumin assured him gently. “How astounding for you, to have one for a friend.”
“Yeah.” Tibo sipped and stole a glance at his sleeping lover. “Weird luck, I guess. Always had weird luck.”
“Certain goblins do. It’s not luck, Tiborishandelac. You are more powerful than you know, and you tap instinctively into ancient goblin magic few remember. You...influence events. You wish for outcomes very strongly. It serves you well, having a powerful family like Rolly’s to call on, and precisely the friends you need when you need them.”
“I don’t…” Tibo shook his head. “I know what it feels like when I reach for magic. I do it all the time in concert. But except for throwing emotions, and metal finding, I don’t ever feel it.”
Chumin nodded, staring out the window. “You are rare. Long ago, goblins knew better how to channel a more subtle magic. To influence. To make luck. We lost the ability through years of slavery and forced transportation, lost the ties with elders who would have taught us, lost the will to try. The natural ability crops up from time to time, but few understand what it is. I tell you this because I could teach you many things.”
“I don’t...Ser...Chumin, I came to do one thing and go home.” Tibo heaved a long, shaky breath. “I got...I have a life to get back to. But I’m kinda amazed that you would want to, you know, teach gutter trash.”
Chumin’s laugh held a bitter edge. “You are my kin. Distant, yes. But my kin could never be gutter trash. I was as you once were, my dear. Alone and far too young, frightened and starving. I fought my way from the slums of Sevilla, as you did in Philadelphia. I know your struggles. I know the pain you hold so close.”
“I’d like...I mean...it would be great to stay in touch. Have a mentor.” Tibo stared at his own boots scuffing the carpet.
“So you shall, if you still wish it after you return home.” Chumin stopped to pour himself more tea. “It’s my understanding that you are here because of complications with the new portal technology.”
“Yeah. Complications.” Tibo lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “That’s one way to say it. I just don’t understand the whole thing. I mean, something that would make travel easier, faster? That’s a good thing. I don’t know why it would get people killed.”
“You think of it in personal terms, my dear. But you must think on a larger scale. Any radically new technology is dangerous. Some are more dangerous than others. The possibility of portals as a commercially viable option would set off a panic in global markets. There are entire industries that would see their livelihoods threatened. Think about the dragon guilds and all the people who support them—the feedstock farmers, the saddle makers, the transport hardware manufacturers, the dragon riders themselves, the specialized veterinarians, the ground support, the makers of hangar and nest technology, the many people employed by dragonports--all of these jobs at risk, all of these lives in the balance.”
“Yeah, but there’s no way portals could replace dragons, right? I don’t understand any of that high-brow magical theory, but you could only make them so big?”
“They are, from what I understand, still highly experimental.” Chumin leaned back in his chair, regarding Tibo carefully. “Size is irrelevant. What they actually could or could not replace in the long run is as well. If they were publicized, markets would go into a frenzy. The global economy is a delicately balanced construct, my dear. Something like this could well cause key pieces of it to collapse. Economies in collapse lead to riots, overthrown governments, wars.”
“Oh.” Tibo sipped again, wishing Rolly were awake. He understood all this kind of crap. “I guess that’s why people are willing to kill for it, huh?”
“It is one of the larger reasons. Factions within factions. And some splinters more dangerous than others.”
“Okay, so.” Tibo leaned back in his chair as well, tired and overwhelmed. “What do we do about it?”