The smog had been unusually thick around Kezan lately. Mount Kajaro had begun showing signs of slight activity, as it did on and off over the decades. Large plumes of the blackest smoke and ash reeked out hourly, and combined with the increased industrialization of the goblins, the air was so thick and sky so dark it practically blotted out the sun. The Horde's war efforts in Northrend, having finally started to settle down, meant one thing for many contractors of Kezan; less business. Many goblins found themselves with surpluses of unsellable war supplies, vehicles and ammunition overflowing their towns as the supply took a few extra days to bring to a halt after a contract expired. It took massive amounts of red tape to shut down manufacturing through any cartel, let alone ones overseen by Undermine itself. The goblin government was reluctant to end or slow production, as that meant less income to the state. With the rumors spreading about the end of days, as well as increasing tensions between the Alliance and Horde, not to mention the possible disaster that loomed above them all within the giant peak of Mount Kajaro, goblins found their supplies vastly outgrowing their demand, panicked believers rationing goods and debts all around the kingdom beginning to soar sky-high.
The town lowest in sea level on the island was particularly plagued with such terrible pollution, but it did not stop the traffic passing through. Why? The town was Bilgewater Port, the busiest and final major port city left in business for the entire northern and eastern shores of Kezan. A permanent fog now hung in the city as ash gently rained day and night. Those of the lower-class found themselves stuck on cleaning duty, keeping the streets swept and the Trade Prince's mansion sparkling. As more and more of the work force was lost to maintaining the city's aesthetic value, on top of the surplus of unusable, useless war supplies, Bilgewater Port had fallen on extremely hard economic times; and all because of the orders from Maldy, Trade Prince of the Bilgewater Cartel.
The Trade Prince's mansion stood near the center of the city. Over two-thousand feet tall, one-hundred floors, each with at least three bedrooms, three baths, its own kitchen and parlor area, along with a massive banquet hall on the second floor larger than most human cathedrals and the world's largest parlor room that made up the first floor, the Bilgewater Trade Prince's home towered over any other structure in Bilgewater port by four-times in height. Painted in colors of pink, red, lavender, yellow and orange, with stain-glass windows of inverted colors mostly of blue and green that stretched for tens of floors at a time, the Maldy family had made sure that if the height wasn't enough to catch everyone's eyes, then the color scheme would. The building was so high, it broke the black smog of industry and ash at only the seventieth floor, meaning at the top of the highest tower one could see above the clouds. The only thing in all of Kezan that looked down upon the mansion was Mount Kajaro itself, which, deep beneath, held the capital city of Undermine. Despite its size, the mansion only held one resident: Trade Prince Maldy, as he refused to allow his servants, appetencies and other lower-class riff-raff dwell under the same roof.
"Gentlemen!" The squeaky voice of Maldy shouted through the banquet halls of his mansion. Surrounding him at the dining table were his "loyal" followers, or at least those devoted to the highest bidder. They were mostly clad in dark black business suits or robes, devouring the finest foods Kezan had to offer. Because of the vast amounts of money his family collected for the state, Undermine was more than happy to share their highly sought, highly rationed, delicacies. Many members from the capital city were even in the chamber with Maldy enjoying a feast of which no other goblin could dream.
The already quiet crowd became completely silent as Maldy stood up on his tall wooden chair and dinged his truesilver fork with cobalt studding against his gold chalice decorated in cardinal rubies and eyes of zul. Standing on even such a high chair did little for Maldy, as he was extremely short. Had he not worn his titanium platform boots constantly, he would be the shortest goblin in Kezan, possibly the world. His boots made him just tall enough, however, to stand over the second-shortest goblin in his city, the tenant to the Silvertongue family known only as "Bowie." His robes hung extremely loosely off his frame, dragging on the floor beneath his chair. The sleeves hung so low around his arms and trailed so far behind him when he walked they could practically fit an ogre and still have room to give. They were fuchsia, with bright golden fringe and one-thousand sapphire spellthread count laced delicately all throughout, the Trade Prince's robes alone could have bailed out the entirety of Bilgewater Port from its economic meltdown.
Maldy's solid mithril teeth flashed as he grinned, his real ones having gone rotten years ago, as he raised his glass of older-than-time-itself port and dramatically shouted, "My fellow, esteemed Trade Princes, businessmen and aristocrats; a toast! To us! The truly finest of the fine to survive… nah, thrive, in such a time of crisis for all other goblins!"
"Here-here!" The other goblins shouted out of fear rather than agreement.
"This speak of a cataclysm," Maldy shouted, still over-acting, "whether true or untrue, gives us all the more reason to be here!" Maldy took a small sip of his expensive drink and shouted one final time, "Eat, drink and be merry men, for tomorrow, we die!"
Another cheer rose up as the goblins, previously so modest in their sips and bites of food, exploded into a fray of gluttony. Sipping turned to chugging and perfectly browned birds bigger than some of the goblins in the room were torn and ripped at by green hands and yellow claws. Maldy himself sat back down on his higher throne and ate more modestly in smaller, feminine bites as he looked down upon his fellow goblins.
"M'lord." A voice called from below Maldy's perch.
Maldy growled. He knew who it was. "What do you want," Maldy paused, scowled down at his apprentice and hissed the name, "Silvertongue?"
Pompwhig Silvertongue, apprentice to the Trade Prince, looked up and said, "Sir, if I may say so sir, the workers, sir, have a status update… sir, on the status of the mansion."
"What about it?" Maldy barked. He chuckled to himself as he muttered, "did another one fall from the side of the eighty-fifth floor washing the windows? That was hilarious."
Pompwhig forced a haughty laugh nervously as he said, "Yes, very funny sir. In fact, two more have fallen to their death. They suffocated on the toxic fumes in the atmosphere around floors seventy through ninety."
Maldy scoffed, "That'll teach them not to be poor then, eh?"
Pompwhig gulped, "Yes sir. The problem is, sir, that by time they finish washing the entirety of your vast and magnificent mansion, sir, the first twenty-two floors, if my calculations are correct, will be covered in soot and tar again… sir."
With a mouth full of chewed food, Maldy spoke and sprayed chewed poultry all over Pompwhig, "Well what should you do about that then?"
At that moment, the doors to the dining hall burst open. A soot-stained goblin wearing tattered rags for clothing came running in, with two red-plate clad mansion guards armed with spears quickly chasing him down. All of the Prince's guests gasped in horror as the crazed goblin came running up to Maldy, shouting unintelligibly.
"Maldy!" The intruder shouted, "You rotten worm!" Before another word got out, a guard tackled him to the ground, landing him just a matter of feet away from the Prince. Even down, he kept shouting, "My wife fell to her death cleaning your precious tower!"
Maldy shrieked like a little girl and leapt up onto his seat as if a mouse had run across the floor. Pompwhig took two steps back out of caution as Maldy started screaming.
"Get him out of here!" Maldy held his napkin to his face, as if he were to have a visceral reaction to such a dirty, lower-class worker of his own employment.
"You're a monster!" The intruding goblin shouted. The guard grabbed him by the hair violently and smashed his face into the marble floor. A gash opened up in his forehead and dripped blood as the guards cuffed him and hauled him to his feet.
Maldy hissed, "I'm not the monster here, you are! Look at yourself. You're a disgrace to our people!"
The apprehended goblin snorted and spat at the tails of the Prince's robes. Maldy twitched in panic as the guards smashed their iron gauntlets across the prisoner's face. The doors creaked open, just as quickly slammed shut, and Maldy was left standing on his chair. Pompwhig, cowering behind his seat, peaked around to see all of the Prince's esteemed guests staring in horror at the now shaken Trade Prince. The glob of spit was still at the end of his robes, and the thought, let alone the sight, of such a thing ate at his mind like worms in a rotted skull.
Opening his eyes to see the entirety of his gathering staring at him, horrified, he shouted out at the top of his lungs, "Get out, all of you! I want you out of my mansion now!"
Quickly the aristocrats emptied the halls. Pompwhig still hid behind the chair, but tried to silently sneak under the table to the exit. Maldy still stood, heart racing of the disgust now soaked in on the bottom of his robes, of his guard's lack of competence at keeping such a man out, at the disrespect shown to him, but most of all, at the filth that had crawled his way into his mansion, into the room he ate, and left all his horrible dirt, spit and blood over his perfectly clean floor.
With a deep breath of composition, Maldy shouted out, "Pompwhig!"
A loud bang from under the table and Pompwhig quickly crawled back out.
"Yes sir?" Pompwhig muttered hesitantly, now hiding behind one of the smaller chairs and the mounds of food still littering the table that would now surely go to waste.
"How dare he!" The Prince shouted, "Come into my mansion, my chambers, and disrespect me so in front of so many high-ranking goblins?"
"Horrid sir, just horrid." Pompwhig said as a good little yes-man.
"And monster!" Maldy shouted, "He called me a monster! Look at him! Being all filthy… coming in here and bringing in his… filthy… filth. Filthy, filthiness filled lower-class filth!"
"Good one, sir." Pompwhig chuckled.
"Silence buffoon! I'm not the monster here, he is. He and his entire lower-class mongrels, living off the hard-earned money of the upper-class, lazy, filthy, and come complaining, screaming at me, poisoning my perfect world, because life treats them badly? Well guess what? Garbage in, garbage out. You live like a rat, life treats you like one."
Pompwhig held his head in shame, but still silently nodded in agreement.
"We all get what we deserve eventually. It's the way of the world. That's why everything is as it is. This is the way things are meant to be, our world is the best of all possible ones. The poor are poor. So be it. It's necessary. My family worked hard to get here, and now it's their turn! They blame the economy, unemployment, no jobs to be had, not enough money to go around, me… all excuses for laziness! I mean, look at us, we're doing just fine in this economy, so can they if they weren't such travesties of welfare!"
Pompwhig had no response.
Trade Prince Maldy's mind wandered in the silent absence of a comment, or "yes sir" from Pompwhig; immediately re-directing his hatred.
"What, you would disagree with me? You would agree with the vermin?"
"No sir!" Pompwhig shouted, "I would never…"
"Silence!" Maldy shouted, still standing feet above Pompwhig, "Keep in mind your place, wretched Silvertongue." The words hissed out of Maldy's mouth like an angry spider. "If it weren't for that damned Baron Silvertongue, things would be so much better. He keeps giving and giving to the hopeless trash of this town, finding them a job on one of his vessels, despite already being highly overstaffed as it is. Some businessman. The damn fool is just throwing his money away, making the rich poorer and the poor richer. What kind of businessman would do that? What kind of monster? Silvertongues… bah, they're the real monsters here."
Maldy stopped. A thought sparked in his mind as he looked down at Pompwhig again, grinning.
He gulped, "Yes sir?"
"What are we going to do about this?"
"About what, sir?"
"You remember, our last conversation? I've lost some castle scrubbers, and need more, particularly after that creature spilled blood on my floor." Maldy reached into his cloak and pulled out a royal scroll. On it he began to scribble a note, and Pompwhig uneasily stepped closer.
"Take this," Maldy said, "It is a proclamation of service. Go out into the town and draft someone to clean my mansion. I will not tolerate this mess. I'm signing this on an emergency declaration, meaning you have full authority to draft any member of the… ugh… lower-class and bring them to my palace to clean."
"Yes sir." Pompwhig said, "And if they refuse?"
Maldy blinked, "Well then, that would be against the law, to defy an emergency declaration, and straight to prison they would go."
Pompwhig nodded, "Yes sir."
Maldy rolled up the scroll, neatly wrapped it and sealed it with his massive ring. He handed it to Pompwhig, and immediately he was out of the banquet hall, down the stairs and out of the mansion. Once Maldy was sure he was gone, he summoned his red-armored chamber guards into the hall.
"Gentlemen," Maldy said, crawling down from his seat, "We've work to attend to." The Prince started waltzing through the hall to the stairs and the guards promptly followed. "Now that Pompwhig is out on an errand, I've decided it's time to take care of our little problem."
Like magic, three quick flaps of his robes and they suddenly shrank down to a more modest size so he could walk without tripping. Stopping at a small desk to bare-down on in the hallway, he pulled out another scroll and began to scribble.
"The Silvertongues…" Maldy spoke between thoughts, "Have been a thorn in our side for far too long… Tonight, we're going to, hopefully, take care of them once and for all. That's why I had to send Pompwhig out. As loyal as he may be… he's still a Silvertongue in the end of the day, and wouldn't have had the gall to do what I need of him, so we… must do it ourselves."
The Trade Prince stamped and sealed his scroll again and turned to his guards. "Rally a small force of guards. We're going to deliver this in person to the Baron's estate. They're both to be drafted to scrub soot off my beautiful mansion's upper-most floors. If they refuse, send them to jail with the others." Maldy sighed contently, "The politicians I had to buy to pass this emergency declaration law truly were the best investment in goblin history, if I do say so myself."
The guards nodded. They whispered to each other, one ran off to get reinforcements and Maldy chuckled evilly to himself, "after all, it's hard to find workers to go up there. It's just so dangerous and all."