tagNonHumanGoblin Maid, Young Master Ch. 01

Goblin Maid, Young Master Ch. 01

byNorth200©

Author's Note:

This is my first story in this genre; a bit outside my normal fare so please let me know what you think. All comments are welcome. Needless to say this is a work of fiction. All characters are adults. Thank you for taking the time to read! Many thanks again to the author Karaline for her thorough review and suggestions.


*****

Ree set the porcelain dinner plate in front of The Master, careful not to scatter the array of silverware that framed the lace-trimmed linen place mat. It wasn't easy; the oak dinner table was three feet high and she herself was a little under four feet, plus the plate was heavy and laden with food and she knew she wasn't to spill any onto the floor or table top.

She took two steps back and absently smoothed down her black and white maid's uniform, then stood straight and still as she'd been taught, awaiting any command from The Master. The white-haired human wore dark trousers and a white shirt with a gray vest over top.

Wearing human-style clothing had become almost second nature to Ree, although it had been a struggle to accept at first. There were certain clothes that had to be worn at certain times, washed with different frequencies and stored in different ways. Humans had so many rules about clothing!

There was a worrying silence as Master surveyed the food on the plate but made no move to pick up his napkin or fork. Ree quickly reviewed the entire process in her head, the food preparation, the cooking, the setting of the table and the serving of the meal. What had she forgotten? Humans had so many rules about food and it was hard to keep them all straight. If she had missed a step, she couldn't imagine what it might have been. She could only wait and see.

But Master surprised her. "Well done, Ree."

His words triggered a strange sensation inside her. A lightness in her chest, almost like a pleasant swelling. Ree tried to identify the feeling but somehow it eluded her, as it had so many times before.

Goblins were simple creatures with just three emotions: hunger, fear and lust. All through her juvenile years, hunger and fear had been enough to see her through. Then she'd been taken by human hunters and sold to Master and she'd come into adulthood as a part of his household. Suddenly there were a thousand Human Rules to learn, overwhelming to a creature accustomed to a simple life. It had been a confusing transition, compounded by the awakening of her twice-monthly Mating Heat, a sexual craving so undeniable and all-encompassing that Master had commissioned a magical silver ring to damp down the urges. She wore the ring at all times on the middle finger of her right hand.

She stood quietly, not looking directly at Master but watching him from the corner of her eye. She had to be ready if his wine needed topping up or if he accidentally dropped food onto the floor. So many rules...

"Are you losing weight?" Master asked, in between bites. He sounded concerned.

Ree liked questions like this, where the correct response was easy to guess. She bent her knees in a well-practiced curtsy as she responded.

"Yes Master."

She saw the corners of his mouth raise briefly and felt relieved; that usually meant she'd guessed the right answer.

"Remember I said you don't need to curtsy each time you answer a question? Only when you greet someone."

She didn't know how to reply, or even if Master expected an answer, so she remained still and quiet. Oftentimes if she didn't move or speak, these problems resolved themselves. The Master's tone was light and she knew he wasn't truly scolding her. And he was right, as always - he had reminded her many dozen times over the years. Humans had so many rules about speaking!

"Why are you losing weight?" he asked.

She winced at the question - there was no telling what the correct answer was supposed to be. Ree didn't like questions where the answer could be anything. She liked questions where the answer was 'Yes Master' or 'No Master'. Especially 'Yes Master' - those questions were the best of all.

The silence grew long before she ventured a response.

"I hope The Master is pleased. I will always work hard to please The Master." She knew it probably wasn't the reply The Master was looking for, but it seemed a safe enough response.

To her relief The Master didn't question her further, at least not right away. He continued to eat, making occasional noises in his throat that signaled his enjoyment of the meal. Ree felt the return of the mysterious lightness and swelling inside her at the thought of The Master enjoying the food she had cooked. It had been hard work, made even more difficult by the hundreds of Human Rules involving food.

Goblins had no such rules. Find something edible and put it in your mouth - that was the Goblin way. Not so for humans. There were Human Rules about what you could eat and they didn't make much sense. Quail were edible but not mice. Rabbits but not cats. Crabs but not spiders. And even when something was deemed edible, not all the parts of it were eaten, especially not heads. Humans were very opposed to eating heads for some reason. And human food couldn't simply be eaten, it needed to be cooked first. But not cooked too much, only a certain amount, with plants added to the meat - but again, only certain plants and only certain parts of those plants.

And when it was cooked and served, the humans ate it in the slowest way possible, picking it to pieces with silver tools. They didn't even crunch the bones afterward, instead leaving them behind with tiny morsels of meat still left over! With such complicated eating habits, Ree often marveled - privately - that humans were as numerous as they were.

"Are you nervous about me going away?" Master asked.

Nervous meant the same as scared, she knew. Humans had many words that meant the same thing. And the thought of The Master leaving for three months DID scare her.

She caught herself about to curtsy and put a stop to it. "Yes Master."

"Is that why you're losing weight? Are you not eating because you're nervous?"

She paused to consider. Was that the reason? She realized it was true - the idea of Master going away was in her thoughts so much that she sometimes forgot to be hungry. It amazed her that The Master could know what was going on inside her head; he was truly a wise and powerful man.

"Yes Master."

"Don't be nervous. My nephew will be here to look after things. He is very kind, and will treat you well."

It was another situation where Ree wasn't sure if Master was expecting an answer so she stayed quiet.

The Master had owned her for four years. During the first two years there had been lots of fear and frequent scoldings as she un-learned the Goblin way and tried to absorb the alien language and customs of the humans. The third year the Mating Heat had struck, causing more confusion and making it difficult to focus on what The Master was patiently trying to teach her. It was only in the past year, with the help of the silver ring, that she'd started to make sense of her job as the housemaid. She understood many things now. Master hardly scolded her any more and frequently praised her instead.

And now he was leaving for three months, and a Young Master would be in charge. Ree had never met The Young Master and wasn't keen on a return to the uncertainty and fear she'd only just escaped.

"I don't want you to lose any weight - you're already thinner than you ought to be. Remember to eat three or four times a day. Do you want me to remind you?"

She was so relieved by The Master's offer that she curtsied before she could think to stop herself.

"Yes Master."

She liked Master. He made her feel safe. He fed her so she was not hungry. He taught her the things she needed to know. He praised her and gave her that welcome, light feeling in her chest. What would happen when Master left and Young Master took his place?

**

"Why do you fear Young Master?" Freida asked. The hulking Ogress hefted the giant axe and smashed it down on the tree trunk, cleaving it in half and embedding the iron axehead into the ground. Even though Ree was perched on a wooden fence rail a few feet away, the force of the blow caused her teeth to chatter. Freida swore and yanked the axe out of the hard earth.

Freida was The Master's grounds-keeper and farmhand - the only member of the household besides Master and Ree herself. Ree had grown to like the Ogress and sought her out whenever her schedule allowed. It was somehow easier to talk to the muscular giant than it was to talk to The Master - the words came to her more easily. The two of them wore matching white shifts, although Freida's was vastly larger than Ree's.

"Master is kind. What if Young Master is unkind to me?"

Freida snarled and brandished the axe. "If Young Master is unkind to you I will cut him in half, then stomp him flat into the ground."

"Oh, you mustn't cut Young Master in half. Master would be displeased!"

Indecision flickered over the Ogress' blunt, terrifying features. "Are you sure?"

Ree nodded earnestly.

Freida swore again, but didn't argue the point. Even so mighty a creature as an Ogress knew to be wary of The Master's power.

"Perhaps Young Master will be even more kind than The Master," Freida said.

That made Ree think. She'd never considered that another human might be MORE kind than The Master. The Master was quite kind indeed, while most humans were not.

"Perhaps," Ree said, not convinced.

As though sensing the Goblin's hesitation, Freida dropped the axe and lowered herself into a crouch so her wide, amber eyes were level with Ree's dun-coloured ones.

"If Young Master is unkind to you, we will run away together into the woods, and not return until The Master is back and Young Master is gone. Agreed?"

Ree nodded. The idea that she could escape Young Master if things got bad was a comforting one, and she knew Freida would be as good as her word if it came to that. An Ogress was meticulously honest.

**

"Ree, this is Edward, my nephew," The Master said, gesturing grandly to the younger, formally dressed man beside him. Young Master had a beard and brown hair instead of white like Master. Young Master's eyes were kind, but there was a gleam in them that scared Ree a little bit. Master's eyes were calm, but Young Master's seemed quick and lively. His body was bigger than Master's, too.

The Master had prepared Ree beforehand for the introduction and Ree played her part, stepping into a perfect curtsy, eyes lowered. "Welcome, Young Master. I hope you will be pleased with my service."

"Let's not stand on formality. Please call me Edward," said Young Master. He stepped forward and extended his open hand towards Ree, thumb on top.

Caught off guard by the words and the gesture, Ree froze and retreated into silence, hoping this was one of those situations that would resolve itself if she didn't move. She almost breathed a sigh of relief when Young Master dropped his hand.

"Edward, we discussed this. Shaking hands with the staff is a breach of protocol," The Master said, and Ree could hear the gentle disapproval in his voice. She knew that tone well, and she felt relieved that for once it was not directed at her.

"I know, uncle, I know. I won't tell you how to run your household, but you know how I feel about these outdated customs."

The Master sighed, then waved the conversation away. "Ree, please bring two loaves of bread from Mr. Hannigan's bakery. Master Edward has a preference for rye."

Ree saw her opportunity to escape and quickly curtsied. "Yes Master." She turned to flee to her chambers, away from this new situation.

"Nice to meet you, Ree. I look forward to seeing you at dinner," said The Young Master, his voice light and friendly. The tone gave her a strange sensation, a pleasant kind of tension throughout her body, or maybe an unfamiliar mix of lust and fear.

**

Ree didn't like venturing into town on her own. While Master was kind and usually spoke to her gently, the other humans were not so nice. Goblins were not popular among humans, it seemed.

Of course, Master's reputation and influence meant that no one in town would actually harm her - or at least, that's what Master had told her - but that influence didn't extend to gracious treatment.

She was spat at and shoved aside as humans walked past. They called her 'tunnel rat' and 'bat-face'. When she entered a store the owner would not serve her until all the humans had been served first, which usually meant a long wait for even the simplest purchases. The long delays gave Ree plenty of opportunity to observe the way humans behaved. Master had admonished her to pay close attention and learn about the Human Ways. There were many differences between humans and goblins.

Humans were taller than goblins and more heavily built, yet human features seemed too small to be of much use. Their eyes and noses were tiny, which explained why they couldn't see well at night and had almost no sense of smell. Their ears were so small that Ree marveled that humans weren't completely deaf. They had strong arms but tiny hands with stubby fingers. The females had white-pink skin that they hid from the sun behind headscarves and parasols. At least the males had darker skin and didn't need to hide from the sun, but even that skin colour wasn't green enough to be useful as camouflage. Any prey would spot them easily, as would any predator.

The strangest thing about humans was how they spent so much time doing things that weren't eating or mating. Whenever she saw the townsfolk they were walking from one building to another, or talking, or shopping, or fussing with horses and wagons. The entire race seemed determined to spend as much time as possible NOT eating or mating. That was probably the reason why most of the women Ree saw had only three or four children. How did humans survive with so few offspring?

Ree didn't like Mr. Hannigan. His bakery was always busy and he wouldn't talk to Ree while there were humans present. Even when the store was empty and Ree finally got his attention, he would quickly ignore her again when another human entered. She arrived at his store by mid-morning but it was past noon when she finally left with the bread Master had sent her for.

Humans didn't like goblins and truth be told, Ree didn't think much of humans, either. Master seemed the only kind one.

And although she hoped Young Master would treat her well, she dreaded the idea of three months without Master.

**

It was strange to hear so much conversation at dinner.

Usually Master ate alone and dinner was a quiet affair. Ree liked that because there weren't so many things to pay attention to and she could focus on her duties as she stood attentively nearby. Master sometimes asked her questions, but usually they were the easy kind.

But with Young Master there, the conversation was almost non-stop and Ree had to pay close attention in case either of the two men addressed her. There were two wine glasses to keep filled. Beyond that, it was hard to know where to aim her eyes. She knew she wasn't to stare, but it was difficult to keep her gaze away from Young Master. Sometimes he would look her direction and catch her staring, but instead of scolding her he would wink and smile and continue the conversation. Each time he looked her way, the strange lust-fear sensation would ripple through her.

Worst of all were the times when Young Master tried to involve her in the conversation as Master looked on with a disapproving frown.

"What do you think of the weather we're having, Ree?"

"What type of bread do you fancy, Ree?"

"Tell me a little about yourself, Ree."

There were no easy questions at all and she wasn't keen on being scolded for a wrong response, so she spent most of the dinner trying to be as small and still and silent as possible. She was very relieved when the two humans finished eating and left for a walk around the property. Would every meal be difficult like this one? Oh, how she wished Master would not leave!

She cleared the plates and silverware and got them washed and put away, then collected the laundry from the line outside and ironed The Master's shirts. She liked ironing; it was her newest skill and it was fascinating to watch the creases disappear under the hot iron. Plus, Master was full of praise when she did it without burning a hole in any shirts.

She had just started the dusting when she heard Young Master return alone. Ree felt a powerful urge to flee to her chambers but fought it; The Master would not be pleased to find the dusting unfinished. She forced herself to continue even as Young Master entered the room.

"My, you are a hard-working one, aren't you Ree?" he asked.

Ree stilled with her back to him, but managed to squeak out a response.

"I hope Young Master is pleased. I will always work hard to please Young Master."

She heard a deep chuckle. It was the noise that Master made when he was happy with her, but somehow it sounded different coming from Young Master. Ree shivered and glanced sideways at the door, weighing the costs of bolting from the room.

She heard his footsteps as he approached, then almost shrieked as she felt his warm hand come to rest gently on her right shoulder! Master rarely touched her. She didn't know how to react so she remained rooted to the spot even as the shiver became a violent quaking.

"There's no need to be afraid, Ree. It's just going to be the two of us here, and Freida, and I favour a more relaxed manner. So please call me Edward, okay?"

Ree tried to speak but nothing came out. She worried she might wet on the floor and knew she'd be scolded if it happened. She'd never done it, but there was probably a Human Rule against it. Humans were very particular about such matters.

She felt him lean closer; his proximity raised the hair on the back of her neck and sent chills down her spine. Her heart was pounding.

"Ree? Let's hear you say my name."

His closeness and persistence made it impossible for her to out-wait him in silence.

"Young Master," she whispered.

"Edward. I want you to call me Edward."

She was sure Master would disapprove. Men were to be called 'Master' and women 'Mistress'. That was one of the Human Rules about speaking.

But to disobey Young Master would also bring a reprimand...

"Master...Edward?"

The deep chuckle came again, and seemed to echo through her. The lust-fear intensified.

"Edward. Just Edward. Don't call me Master, okay? You will call me Edward and I will call you Ree."

She took a deep breath. "Edward."

"Well done." She felt the hand on her shoulder give a brief squeeze, then lift away.

As soon as he broke contact she dropped the long-handled duster and raced from the room, sprinting through the spacious house and down the stairs to her chambers in the cellar. It was dark there, and enclosed, with a low ceiling - just the way a goblin would want it. She felt safe. Just to be certain, she hid herself among the wine racks and huddled against a wall in the darkest corner, keeping the cellar door in her sight.

She wished Master would not leave. She vowed to remain in the cellar until he returned!

**

But when Master called for her the next morning she found herself climbing the stairs, dreading the thought of seeing Edward again but unwilling to disobey the summons. She cracked the cellar door open and peeked through, then stuck her head out and glanced around warily. Finally she let out a sigh and left the cellar, closing the door quietly behind her.

She found Master and Edward in the sun room, sipping mint tea and sitting in the tall, overstuffed armchairs. Ree's eyes flickered to where Edward sat and found him looking back at her with a kind smile. She paused, not wanting to approach any further. Master regarded her with a frown.

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