I have been peacefully sleeping in my cave when the sound of steps woke me up. It was distant, slow, quiet, but it still bothered me. Goblins have very acute hearing, you know. My cave was really an abandoned mine, but I did not live very far into it, so it was more of a cave for me. For years there have been no visitors, and I could sleep and be safe. It did get lonely sometimes, though, so I was intrigued by the footsteps. Especially because I could hear that these were human footsteps and not those of a fox like last time. I climbed to a higher ledge in the rock to get a better view, and sat there, awaiting the visitor.
It was a tall male human, wearing dirty clothes and carrying a flashlight and what looked a modern camera, I think. The human was talking into the camera and showing to it my cave. “Should I greet him? Might be fun!” I thought, jumping down from my ledge. I landed so that I was between the visitor and the exit out of the cave. I was curious to talk to him.
My landing startled the visitor and he turned to face me, blinding my sensitive eyes with his flashlight. “What in the world are you?” he yelled hysterically, taking out a Swiss-army knife. I hissed and yelled back, “Calm down! I’m harmless! Lower the knife! I haven’t had visitors in years!” The human stiffened but seemed to calm down nonetheless. He did not lower the knife, but he did lower the flashlight. Realizing that this could look cool on his camera, he turned it at me and asked, “What are you? Are you one of the goblins or the spirit of a dead miner?” I took a few steps towards him and sat down, crossing my legs. “I am a goblin. To tell you what I know, I want to see what you know of this place,” I said.
The human answered, “This is a cobalt mine where a lot of miners died or got sick. Supposedly, because of goblins. I am here to explore and see ghosts. How should I believe that you won’t kill me or make me sick?” “Because goblins don’t do that. We’re too lazy for that. And the miners got sick and died not because of goblins, but because cobalt mines, as you called it, have poisonous metals like arsenic and sulphur, making it look like pretty silver,” I explained.
The visitor was about to ask something else, when I interrupted him, “As for calling it ‘cobalt’, I am flattered.” The human seemed confused at that. “Ehh, it comes from ‘Kobold’, which is how Germans used to call goblins. Shouldn’t you know that?” I said. “The miners blamed their sickness on Kobolds, so the cobalt ore started to be associated with them. A Swedish chemist, Georg Brandt called cobalt ‘regulus cobalti’, meaning “the metal of cobalt’, the goblin’s metal. Also, don’t you, humans, have a paint colour named ‘cobalt’? I like it. It’s a pretty blue. Before you ask, yes, I lived here when miners were here, but I never did anything to them. I just live here, among the pretty rocks and arsenic vapours,” I said. “But doesn’t ‘Kobold’ mean something bad?” asked my visitor. “It comes from ‘Kobe’, meaning ‘hut’, and ‘hold’, meaning ‘friendly’!” I answered in the most amicable way I could manage. “I know, at the time, creatures were referred to by complimentary names, so they don’t get mad,” said the human. “How rude!” I exclaimed, realizing that he is saying the truth, a misjudged one, but truth.
Realizing the danger of arsenic, the visitor panicked, and blinding me with his flashlight, ran towards the exit. “How rude! I just started a conversation!” I yelled at him, but he was already gone. Once again, I was all alone with my pseudo-silver rocks.