Tonight, I read an exceptionally well-written article about gun violence from former Milwaukee Brewers player and current San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler. He explored this topic through the issue of a moment of silence on the field before every major league baseball game, and points out that’s not enough.
In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), and Bejuss, the lisping raven with the twisted beak, encounter an unwelcome side effect of goblin medicine.
The goblin brother’s household were all feeling the effects of winter as chill winds from the north signaled that its icy fingers were taking hold. Neo was laid up in bed, shivering and sneezing with a heavy cold. Make’s nose was all bunged up. Mous’s eyes and nose were streaming constantly. Glob had chronic earache and Bejuss’ feathers had lost their sheen as he coughed and sneezed constantly. The worst afflicted was simpleminded Byz. He had all the symptoms of the dreaded hack, a potentially fatal winter affliction peculiar to goblins.
The hack is not a simple coughing fit brought on by a sore throat or common cold, it is far, far worse. Depending on the health of the sufferer, if the patient is given the wrong kind of medicine, severe, sometimes fatal, complications can occur.
Poor Byz lay in his bed in great discomfort. Glob sat beside him feeding him weak mushroom soup by the spoonful.
Bejuss was perched on Glob’s shoulder, sneezing loudly. “Achoo! Rarrk – me nearly thneezed me brain’th out, beg’th pardon Glob,” the old bird apologized, after spraying his friend’s ear with birdy snot, which he tried to wipe clean with his wing. He watched Glob feed Byz. He wasn’t going to admit it, but he actually felt sorry for the youngest goblin brother.
Neo sneezed, cursed, broke wind violently, and threw off his thick cobweb blankets as his temperature rose, making him sweat profusely. Despite shivering from his high fever, Mous sat so close to the fire that his jerkin started to singe. Make’s dry hacking cough made his face change colour and his eyes bulge. The honeysuckle flavoured smoke from his bestest briar pipe burned his already inflamed throat, making him feel worse.
Byz in his severely weakened state tried desperately to sit up. Each time Glob offered him another spoonful of soup, the hack caused him to shake so violently that several times he had knocked the spoon from Glob’s hand spilling it all over himself, Glob, and his bed.
A loud knock on the door interrupted their misery. Make went to see who it was. When he opened the door, no one was there. He began muttering under his breath about, “Subwun’s dakin diabolical liberdies wiv sick folk!” when he saw a small package had been left beside the doorstep. He picked it up before rapidly shutting the door to keep out the cold.
“Who was it?” Glob casually enquired as he wiped spilled mushroom soup from his lap.
“Tweren’t nobody dere,” Make replied grumpily, sniffing loudly to clear his nose while looking at the package. “Foud dis by de door,” he added as his blocked nose continued to affect his speech. Sneezing loudly he handed the package to Glob, before joining Mous beside the fire. Both goblins shivered constantly, even though wisps of steam rose from their fevered bodies.
Glob stopped trying to feed Byz and took the package over to his chair by the window to examine it. Despite feeling terrible, Bejuss perched on the back of Glob’s chair, curious to know what it contained. “Rarrk, ith yer goin ter open it then – achoo?” the old bird sneezed his question, wiping his beak with his wing. Glob turned the package over to see if it had anything written on it. He carefully opened it and peered nervously inside. There was a small sealed bottle along with a note. Glob studied the note very carefully.
“Ter whom it may concern,
Here is sum medicine ter relieve yer winter ailments. Add no more than wun drop ter a mug on mulled mead ter relieve all the symptoms on goblin hack, colds, coughs, sore throats n blocked noses at this time on year.
Get well soon.”
Glob put down the note and carefully uncorked the mysterious jar. The foul odour made his eyes water as he gingerly sniffed it. He dipped his finger into the jar’s neck and licked the concoction with the tip of his tongue, grimacing at its foul taste. Then his old face lit up when he finally recognized what it was. “Some kind soul has jus gorn n left us a jars on snifflebain jelly. Make go n gets the mugs n the barrel on mead. Mous sticks the poker in the fire – quick sharp now.” As Mous plunged the red hot poker into each mug of mead, Glob carefully put one drop of the runny jelly into each hot drink, then passed them to his brothers.
Bejuss watched as the goblins miraculously began to get better before his eye. “Me want thome, me want thome!” he loudly demanded, jumping up and down, pecking at the jar to get Glob’s attention.
Glob shook his head. “I’s sorry Bejuss lad, but snifflebain is goblin medicine, taint for birdies. It’s cud be poison ter the likes on yer. I’ll go n gets some hawthorn berries n crab apples soon ter makes yer own special medicine once I’s feelin better.”
Bejuss flew up to the rafters in utter disgust, sulking and muttering loudly that, “all goblinth ith thelfithh – achoo!”
By mid-afternoon, the five goblin brothers were once again hale and hearty and had left their home to gather acorns, honeycomb and toadstools to stock their larder for winter. Relieved that they were feeling much better, they had all completely forgotten that Bejuss was still ailing. Plus, never once did any of them wonder who their mysterious angel of mercy may have been.
When they departed, Bejuss flew down to the table where the medicine bottle sat. He peered and pecked at it while walking around it. He pushed it, tipping it over. The bottle rolled across the table and fell to the floor, smashing to pieces. Its contents settled in a sticky puddle on the floor, giving off a strange green haze.
He flew down to the floor and hopped over to the puddle, cautiously smelling it. “Rarrk – it thmellth dithguthtin!” he lisped, as the foul aroma filled his nostrils. He carefully tasted it with his tongue. “Tatht’th nathty too, but it made Glob n the retht better, tho why not me?”
Covering his nostrils with one wing to keep out the smell, the old bird began to lick greedily at the spilled medicine. Because of the way he hungrily consumed the sticky substance, inevitably he got the hiccups. But these were no ordinary hiccups. Each time they happened, a tiny green cloud escaped from his beak. As his hiccups increased in intensity, the cloud grew larger and darker in colour.
Neo had gone to see Miranda, tired of looking for honeycomb. As he approached the stable, he broke wind violently and vanished from view in a thick green cloud.
Glob sat talking with his humin friends, Mica and Agnitha, while their little girl Ylesse, who by now was toddling on shaky legs, played with a ball of twine. A cry of alarm from somewhere outside made them all quickly run to see what was wrong.
Mica’s fellow villagers stood transfixed. They watched a giant muscular green goblin with a large double-headed axe chase after an equally large half goblin, half rabbit with large furry ears and long whiskers sticking out of its long pointed nose, intent on doing it harm. Then from the southern pasture yet another very large fierce looking mountain goblin warrior with a pig-like snout, carrying a shield across his back and swinging a large spiked mace, closed ready to do battle with the other two. A fourth equally large goblin emerged from the tree line and strode towards where the villagers stood, sat down heavily with such force that he made everyone feel unsteady on their feet, and started furiously sucking his thumb.
Despite being terrified, Glob thought he recognised the monstrous assembly. He walked over to the giant thumb sucking goblin. “Byz lad, wots wrong then?” The giant pouted and looked at him before beginning to cry. He sneezed and burped loudly releasing a green cloud, and reverted back to his normal self.
“What’s going on Glob,” Mica whispered quietly as he carefully approached.
“They is all me brothers Mica. Someone left some medicine by our door this mornin. We wos all sufferin from aches n pains, coughs n colds. I’s gaves all me brothers some in a mug on mulled mead n theys all gots better. I’s didn’t takes any meself, jus stuck some in me ear, n me earache vanished!”
The giant with the axe was about to behead the goblin rabbit, when he suddenly froze, sneezed a green cloud and shrank back to his normal size, crossing his eyes constantly. The goblin rabbit hopped away terrified, disappearing behind one of the roundhouses.
“Wots wrong wiv us Glob?” Neo asked with a perplexed look on his face, dazed by the transformation, still burping and breaking wind and giving off yet more green clouds as the effects of the medicine slowly dissipated.
The former mountain goblin warrior with the mace answered as he reached inside his jerkin for his bestest briar pipe. “I’s knew there wos summink spicious bout that parcel Glob – achoo!”
“Bless you Make,” Agnitha replied, offering him a rag to wipe his nose. Ylesse suddenly burst into tears behind them. When they all turned round they saw her having a tug of war with the goblin rabbit who was trying hard to steal her ball of twine.
“Eponymous Tringthicky – give it back to my Ylesse this instant do you hear, or else I swear I’ll slap your legs!” Agnitha shouted angrily, scolding the accident prone goblin, while scooping up her tearful baby daughter.
The goblin rabbit hung its head in shame, twitching its nose. “I’z zorry Agnitha, zorry Ylezze, I’z juz wanted ter play wiv it,” he said, quickly handing the twine ball back to Ylesse who pouted angrily at him before sticking out her tongue. Mous began to hop off in the direction of their oak tree home, tripped on a rock and fell over, knocking the wind out of himself. With one loud green burp he was finally back to normal.
Glob rounded up his still sneezing brothers and tied them together before he marched them home in disgrace. Once he had sent them all to their beds, after dosing them up with proper snifflebain jelly, he finally relaxed on his chair by the window.
Then out of the corner of his eye he spied the broken bottle and the puddle of spilled medicine. Glob panicked. He hunted high and low in his search for Bejuss. If the medicine had turned his brothers into gigantic ferocious goblins, what might it have done to a raven?
While everyone had been distracted, a furtive figure made its way from shadow to shadow, silently entering each of the roundhouses, stealing what took its fancy, before disappearing once more.
Fleetwood congratulated himself on his brilliant ruse. He sat inside the cave above the valley checking his loot. His face broke out into a broad grin. “Hee hee – stupid humins is fooled so easy,” he chortled to himself, studying Agnitha’s beautiful Jet necklace. His ‘medicine’ had been a total success. Using snifflebain jelly to disguise his transformation potion was a stroke of pure genius.
Dark descended on the valley. The humins by now realised they had been robbed of their most precious possessions. An angry mob led by Mica went to the goblin brother’s oak tree home. “Glob, get out here now!” Mica demanded loudly, illuminated by the burning torches of his angry fellow villagers.
Glob nervously opened the door. He had never seen his humin friend like this before, clearly ready to do harm. The sight of a dozen armed humins determined for revenge unnerved him. “Wots wrong Mica me lad?” Glob nervously enquired, feeling the mood of the humins in his bones.
“While we were all being distracted by you and your brothers, we were being robbed. My Agnitha has lost her necklace. Brion’s wife has lost her mother’s broach. Everyone has had something of value stolen. We don’t want you and your brothers Glob, we want Bejuss. Everyone knows that next to a thieving magpie, a raven likes collecting shiny things. He’s the guilty party here!”
Glob’s mind spun. He could not believe the old bird was a thief, and yet… “I’s always thought that were only magpie’s like yer says. Tenerate, he aint here Mica lad; truth is I’s don’t know where he is. This mornin we wos all feelin horrible wiv coughs n colds. I’s tolds yer bout someone leavin us some medicine ter cure our winter ills; we’s all tooks some n began feelin better – Bejuss wos ill too. I’s forgots ter makes him some birdy medicine. When we’s got back, I’s saw the broke medicine bottle on the floor. Bejuss mus ave taken some n vanished into thin air!”
From high above the real thief’s every movement was being closely shadowed unseen as he returned home with his spoils. Bejuss silently followed Fleetwood through the woods to his hideaway. The crafty wood goblin sat down and began sorting his loot.
“Give it back, give it all back.” A ghostly voice insisted.
Fleetwood leapt up and looked all around him. “Who saids that, shows yerself,” he demanded, nervously brandishing his goblin blade while turning his head left and right, searching for the voice’s owner.
“Give it all back Fleetwood Cranberry, or me’ll turn yer into a thtone or a frog!” Bejuss replied, trying hard not to laugh. He was thoroughly enjoying being invisible.
“Goes away ghosty, please goes away,” Fleetwood bleated, now completely terrified by his unwelcome ethereal visitor.
“Give it all back now!” Bejuss demanded; causing the dust to rise by silently flapping his wings, unseen by Fleetwood. Next, he flew to the fireplace and blew hard, making the low flames erupt into life. Then he opened the goblin thief’s cupboard and threw all of its contents onto the floor.
Fleetwood’s eyes stared in sheer terror as everything he possessed flew about the room. He screamed and cowered in fear among the debris on the floor. “Donts hurts me ghosty, I’s learned me lesson I’s promises,” the frightened thief squealed.
“Gather everythin tergether n take it back ter the humin’th village now Fleetwood Cranberry afore me turnth yer inter a juicy thlug n eatth yer – now be gone wiv yer!”
Bejuss silently followed him back to the village and watched as he returned each item. “Never ever return ter thith valley Fleetwood Cranberry, on pain on death!” Bejuss said finally from somewhere close to the thief’s ear. Fleetwood ran off terrified into the night, white as a ghost, never to be seen again.
Glob sat at the window unable to sleep, worried sick for Bejuss. He felt a gentle breeze on his face. “Rarrk – me back Glob, n tho ith the humin’th pretty thtuff,” the old bird lisped, perching on the old goblin’s shoulder. Glob nearly had a heart attack when Bejuss magically reappeared. “W-w-what d’yer mean?” he managed to stammer.
“Rarrk – it woth Fleetwood wot gave yer the medicine ter make yer all inter monthterth n fool the huminth while he thtole from them. Me followed him all day. The medicine made me invithible – look.” Glob’s eyes widened when Bejuss disappeared then reappeared before his eyes. The old bird chuckled at the expression on his friend’s face. “Me thcared him tho much, he thought me wath a ghotht come ter haunt him. Me told him me’d turn him into a thlug n eat him if he didn’t return all he thole n never come back.”
Glob smiled happily to himself, glad that his feathered friend was alive and not the thief after all. He gave Bejuss a well-earned bowl full of juicy slugs before they both turned in for the night.
Unlike the goblin brothers, Bejuss was permanently changed by the medicine. Being invisible would prove to be an added benefit for the lisping one-eyed old raven with the twisted beak in the future.
To be fair to Maljie, it had been a hard day. It wasn’t that she was hewing wood and digging ditches, but still, just being nice to people can be hard work at times.
It started with a craft fair. The Shrine of Aea in Her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm runs a couple of them during the year. It does three important things. One is that we hope it will bring a bit of money into the shrine. Our coffers, whilst not, in point of fact, empty, are still hardly bulging. It has been pointed out that if we swept out the cobwebs and then emptied the dust out of some of our more venerable treasure chests, we might find as much as twenty or thirty dregs that have been hiding at the bottom. (To be fair, when one of the mendicants tried this he found nothing…
This morning I perused several posts on different internet pages extolling the importance of attending workshops and conferences for writers. All of them give the unsuspecting the totally wrong message, by implying that participation is a guarantee to literary success by sitting down with, and talking to, what the various sites claim are professionals in our business.
Most also suggest that by spending copious amounts of money to promote your work via their sites will also ensure success. This little time bomb is usually to be found buried in the small print, tucked well away from the main text.
To put it crudely – it’s all complete bollocks!
If you are a social climbing gadfly with money to burn who loves to tell anyone within earshot that you are an author, by all means flit between the various writers workshops and conferences, no matter where they are, to your heart’s content, or until you do an impression of Icarus. If you believe that doing this will somehow make you a writer – dream on idiot!
These days you will find many of these wannabe’s on sites like Facebook. They are fairly easy to spot. Usually they are the ones who add the word author as if it is one of their christian names – Author Joe Bloggs, or they add the word to their surname – Joe Bloggs – Author.
However, not all writers who have the word added to their name can be lumped together with the wannabes. There are one or two exceptions. Usually they are people who got caught out when creating an account on the social media site of their choice. As a general rule of thumb, you will find that hardworking real writers just use their given name.
If you delude yourself into believing that by rubbing shoulders with well known authors, that somehow or other some of their success will rub off on you, think again! As for the literary agents and publisher’s representatives who the various sites claim will be in attendance, if they turn up at all which is highly doubtful, they are only looking for one thing – a manuscript to exploit to their own financial advantage. They are certainly not there for you.
As for the kind of literary success the various sites say is yours for the taking, unless you are known celebrity, be it an actor, pop-star, socialite, television personality or sports man or woman, who has been approached by a publisher with an in-house ghost writer standing by – forget it! Come on now, you didn’t really think that your favourite movie star or singer actually penned that best selling autobiography did you?
Take it from one who knows – there is no substitute under the sun for hard work and long experience. That only comes after years of honing your craft. Most of us continue honing until the day we shuffle off this mortal coil. Don’t worry if it takes you several years or decades, one day you will pen a work which appeals to the general reading public, however briefly.
Don’t you know there is a war on? What does it take to get people to take things seriously? Do we need Chief Warden Hodges from Dad’s Army storming round Brussels shouting ‘Put that Light Out’?
There is a problem with people. They will continue to believe things even when they’re obviously not true. As an example of this, YouGov do a daily chat, they email it to tens of thousands of people. They will ask various questions on the subject chosen for today, but the fascinating part is that you see the number of people who have agreed with which answer.
So when they asked what precautions people were taking against covid, I took a screenshot of the answer. 47% of people said they were wearing a facemask. I have to ask where? In the comfort and safety of their own home? When they’re in bed? Because they’re certainly…
Seven years ago, after almost three weeks of endless pontificating I was once again back writing my science fiction WIP, The Guardian.
At the time the story was at a crossroads. I had several ways in mind for where it may go next. Each one wholly dependent on a specific character, or characters, and how they had reacted so far. I gradually eliminated each of them in my mind for varying reasons. That’s why it took me a lot of time to finally decide on which character, so that the story could continue.
If you are at all familiar with the way certain wooly headed academics behave, it will come as no great surprise that I’m using my character, Professor Ephraim Adelmann, once again. Having worked with academics like him for a quarter of a century, I know how they think. Most of the ones I knew seriously needed a notice slung from around their necks, clearly stating to all and sundry that under no circumstances should they ever be left alone for one second. When it comes to common sense, most truly classic academics have none. Ephraim is no exception. In short, he has… Whoops, I almost told you then. All you need to know for now is that this part of the story unfolds back where Adler and Lynne first became aware of just how much danger they faced when they arrived in the Valles Marineris on Mars.
I was hoping The Guardian kept its distance while I fixed the problem!
Some rower sets off from his childhood to cross the Atlantic of life as the crowds gather to applaud his courage and the adventures he is yet to discover. He is moved by the numbers of people who are there and pulls strongly on his oars and, as he approaches the harbour entrance, they are lined with well wishers: an astonishing and uplifting sight.
As he rows the harbour slips slowly behind him, but although close friends and family follow him in little power boats the crowd is left behind. Slowly as the shore line recedes , the friends turn back towards their harbour as his emotions well up: he so wishes he could go with them, but what a fool he’d look if he did, so on he rows, watching their figures move slowly out of sight. The training and the will power kick in as he pulls on…
At the time of writing this post I’m still working on the first draft of my work in progress Autumn 1066. More specifically, the second of the three battles apposite to the story that occupies each and every moment of each and every day for me.
That does not mean endless hours spent writing. Rather the complete opposite. A story like this requires a lot of reading and forethought before hesitantly offering up words. If you want to do a story like this justice, writing a historical fiction based on actual events is not as easy as you may imagine.
While I’m now in no doubt whatsoever that the story will be short, the thing I’m really loving is looking at whats going on in the minds of my fictional characters from their eleventh century perspective. Despite the nine hundred and fifty one years that separate us, when comparing the Saxons and us, we’re not so different.
While I’m writing the book in present day English, not its eleventh century equivalent, I am using Saxon names, types of weapons and titles. For me this is fast becoming less about writing a book as much as conducting an intellectual exercise, purely for my own edification. While that may sound strange, even perhaps selfish to you, writing a book like this one is just that – an intellectual exercise governed by rules and regulations, unlike the freedom of writing an ordinary fictional story.
Now I’d better get back to where I left everything in abeyance in the second battle yesterday…
This was originally published in two parts, in 2018. I have combined both parts into one story of 2,600 words.
The picture was from Sue Judd’s blog, and I used it as a prompt. https://suejudd.com/
That summer of 1914 had started hot, and kept getting hotter. The sleepy town at the edge of the Massif Central felt more like the tropics, and Serge was uncomfortably hot in his Sunday Best suit as he walked along the path leading to the lake. But he wouldn’t slow his pace, as time with Sandrine was all too fleeting, and he wanted to make sure he got there early. They had no option but to meet in the old boat house. It was far enough away from the prying eyes of those who might recognise them, and it had proved to be a good choice, as they were never disturbed. Every Sunday for two…
Glob’s beautiful friend Lox, the leader of the Elves
Beware on Crellan’s Mine
It’s A Case of Balance, Do You See
In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), and curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), together with Bejuss, the one-eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, and their friends and allies, head towards Crellan’s mine to rescue its slave workers.
Morweth ended a heated argument over what they would do with the black wizard Crellan when they finally caught up with him. This was the time for wisdom, magic and cunning, not revenge.
“No, no, no, Crellan must not die! Goblindom exists because it is in equilibrium. Life and death, growth and decay, summer and winter, and in magic’s case, good and evil. All contribute to keeping us hidden from prying eyes. Should any of these elements necessary to our existence cease to be, the magic barrier will simply dissolve, and our part of the world will be quickly overrun by the hated humans and end forever. If you will dear friends, Goblindom and everything in it will simply end for all time, soon to be forgotten. Our capability to live in peace together and converse with each other, be we witch or wizard, raven or eagle, humin or goblin, wyvern or griffin, ogre, troll, elf, mountain gremlin, even dragon, will also end. The human’s world beyond our barrier is in a state of chaos. The different kinds living in it cannot understand each other anymore. Consequently, they live in fear and kill rather than live side by side like us. Any mutual trust between all living things that they may have had is gone for all time. It’s a case of balance, do you see.”
“Then why’s is we goin ter his mine?” Nit enquired. Like the rest, he puzzled why they were heading east towards the Widow Spires and certain trouble, possibly even death, if not to end Crellan’s life.
“I’s can answers that Nit, if yer don’t minds me buttin in Morweth,” Glob interjected, in support of the white wizard, “we’s goin ter free the slaves if we’s can, n close the mine forever. Everyone knows taint natural, nor safe, ter dig big holes neath the ground. It coulds let danger from below enter Goblindom. I says beware on Crellan’s mine! Remembers wots almost gots out when we’s tried ter rescue Yathle’s cousin Ariadne.”
Those that had taken part in the abortive rescue attempt remembered the spine-chilling cry and the smell of brimstone, moments before the magic barrier closed behind them after they had reached the safety of this world, sealing off the one beneath their own.
“But what is Crellan up to?” Mica began, still not clear about the black wizard’s reason for needing so many jewels, “apart from looking pretty round a female’s neck, what possible purpose could Crellan have in mind for those coloured stones?”
“That my friend is what I wish to learn,” Morweth replied, like Mica he puzzled over what Crellan needed them for. For the moment the answer eluded him.
They had camped for the night at the head of a valley leading to the foothills of the Widow Spires beneath the easternmost edge of Goblindom’s thick oak woods. From now on they risked being seen by Crellan’s lookouts as they began following Brog. At long last he had seen the error of his ways after both Yathle and Slyth threatened to rip him apart with their powerful talons. Together with Nit, he would guide the army through the hills.
Bejuss sat on Slyth’s great armoured head quietly talking to him. “Rarrk – we need ter thee how far wetht Crellan’th lookoutth are,” he lisped, while preening his feathers in between catching passing moths in his twisted beak which were attracted by the campfire.
Slyth’s belly growled. He hadn’t eaten a goblin for days. Being surrounded by hundreds of his favourite snacks was driving him crazy. For a split second, he even contemplated flicking his head to dislodge his feathered friend and swallow him whole. Then overcome with deep shame, he quickly dismissed the idea. He had momentarily placed his desperate need to eat above his deep friendship with the old raven. “We should go ter Morweth n tell him we need ter fly east ter spy on them Bejuss,” Slyth sheepishly suggested, desperately hoping that the old bird had not sensed his brief moment of madness brought on by his extreme hunger.
Maybe they could kill two birds with one stone so to speak. He and his brother Garr could fill their bellies at the same time as determining Crellan’s defences. Within a few minutes with Morweth’s blessing, the two griffins and Bejuss together with Yathle and her squadron of wyverns were heading towards the Widow Spires.
“I’s feds up n hungry! Where’s our relief, Derr?”
“Shuddup n stops moanin, they’ll be here soon enuff,” Derr replied to his companion, Tan. They had been on watch since sunset, and now it was close to dawn. Below them, they had a clear view of the reception camp, the mine’s entrance, and the carts being loaded by slave labourers with the freshly mined jewels.
Derr’s eyes misted up. Great drops of saliva fell from his mouth at the thought of all those jewels below. “Taint fair. Whys don’t we steals sum for us?” Tan suggested in a hushed tone, briefly forgetting his hunger as the thought of owning the jewels below overtook him. “Shush brother, don’t even thinks on it, else Crellan will hears n kills us both,” Derr hissed, as an involuntary shiver ran down his spine. The thought of crossing the black wizard made his green goblin blood run cold.
Back in his laboratory, Crellan’s face broke out in a contemptuous sneer while he watched and listened to their conversation, thanks to his mercury filled crystal seeing bowl before he retired to bed. Ungrateful plains goblins like those two were easily replaced. Tomorrow things would be different. As it turned out it was a prophetic thought on his part. So far his stocks of emeralds were building up nicely. He only needed twenty more cartloads before he could finally begin the second phase of his plan. Half a moon’s more mining should suffice.
Bejuss perched on Morweth’s shoulder moments after he and Slyth, together with Garr, Yathle and her sisters returned. “Rarrk – there ith three wayth ter the mine Morweth; one ith directly ahead on uth ter the eatht, but it’th heavily guarded like the one ter the thouth. But the one ter the north hath only a few lookoutth; it leadth directly ter a bluff above the mine.”
Morweth nodded his thanks. “No matter which path we take, Crellan will see us approach via his crystal seeing bowl my friends,” the old wizard declared, deeply concerned for everyone’s safety. “Yathle, can you take Brilith and me to Crellan’s home? Between us, we can cast a spell of invisibility to prevent us being observed by any of his minions along the way. But if he is still awake, whether it will fool him I simply don’t know. We have to get inside undetected to counter his magic. Perhaps we may even learn of his intent.”
Yathle fixed the old wizard with her golden eyes, gently smiled and nodded. Mica rose, and together with Lox, the leader of the elves, volunteered to accompany them. Morweth smiled and shook his head. “I thank you my friends, but no. You must lead the army to the mine. Bejuss will accompany us. If we are successful he will act as my messenger and fly back here to you. At that point, you will know it is safe to proceed. The battle for Crellan’s mine will be fierce my friends, make no mistake.”
Mica, Glob and the rest momentarily watched as Yathle rose into the sky with her two passengers with old Bejuss flying alongside before they all magically vanished from view. Now all Mica, Glob and the rest could do was wait.
Yathle landed silently on the roof of Crellan’s impregnable stone tower lair. Morweth motioned for both her and Bejuss to stay behind while he and Brilith stole silently down the tower’s winding stone steps leading to Crellan’s laboratory. As the pair approached the door still invisible, they came across two dozing mountain gremlin guards. Morweth turned them both to stone, after deftly relieving one of them of a set of keys. Brilith kept watch while the ancient wizard tried each key in the door. After they entered, Morweth quickly relocked the door behind them.
The first thing on his mind was to destroy the seeing bowl. Brilith stayed his hand. “Take it with us, it may prove useful later,” she whispered. Morweth handed it to her. After pouring the mercury into a stone flask, she quickly secreted both the flask and the crystal bowl into a large pocket inside her cape.
Next, they both turned their attention to destroying Crellan’s laboratory using their powerful magic to reduce everything to dust. Then they left the laboratory, locked the door, and between them, cast a spell. Briefly, they watched as the door transformed itself, becoming part of the wall, sealing the laboratory off forever. When Crellan woke, not only would the two guards be nothing more than stone statues, but the wall of his laboratory would be solid with no entrance.
Brilith led the way down to where the slaves delivered the emeralds each day. They stopped outside Crellan’s bed chamber. Morweth quickly and quietly turned the sleeping wizard’s door to stone, making it blend into the rest of the wall just like the door to his laboratory, sealing him in.
On entering the vast ground floor their breath was completely taken away. Neither of them had ever seen so many emeralds before in their long lives. But they were not the only jewels stored there. Huge mounds of rubies, diamonds, beryl, sapphires, onyx and topaz filled the rest of the chamber. While they briefly surveyed the scene the first two cartloads of emeralds for the day were being unloaded by goblin slaves urged on by the vicious whips of their guards.
Morweth’s blood ran cold. He finally understood what Crellan intended. Only one kind of creature coveted jewels like these in such vast quantities – black dragons!
The black wizard was gathering together enough jewels of all kinds from beneath the ground to raise an army of dragons to help him seize Goblindom for himself. Perhaps he even intended to raid the world of the humans beyond the magic barrier, thereby threatening the very existence of their hidden world in his desire to become its ruler!
Their objective had now changed. Everything here had to be destroyed. Taking the drastic decision, between them, they cast a spell of undoing. This time, the spell was different to the one cast by Morweth and Crellan when they destroyed the black dragon Kilycke’s nest, being wholly cast using white magic. As the spell slowly took effect, stone by stone, jewel by jewel, Morweth followed Brilith on the long climb back to the tower roof where Yathle and Bejuss waited patiently. When the black wizard eventually woke, he was in for a few unwelcome surprises.
Glob passed wind violently as he ate his breakfast of honeycomb, wild onion and dried fish. Moments later he almost soiled himself, very nearly jumping out of his skin when Bejuss landed unseen on his shoulder. “Rarrk – it’th time ter begin,” the old raven announced. By the time Yathle returned with Morweth and Brilith, the army was already on the march to the northern path with Mica and Lox at its head, all following Brog. At the base of the path, Morweth divided the army in two.
Taking Mica and his warriors together with Lox and some of her elven archers, accompanied by Slyth and Garr, Morweth and Brilith set off to the lookout post above the mine. Glob, Neo, Make, Mous, Nit and Byz were to follow Brog further north over a precipitous path. With luck, they would not be detected as they approached the mine from behind.
Derr and Tan’s lives savagely ended when Mica picked them up by the scruff of their scrawny necks and threw them to Slyth and Garr, who sliced them in two with their great beaks after the party had stealthily crept up on them from behind. At long last the two griffins had finally filled their complaining bellies. They both flew off to join Yathle’s squadron feeling renewed. Now they could enjoy themselves.
Yathle and her sisters began by delivering well-aimed fire balls, first at the remaining lookout posts, and then the groups of mine guards far below beyond the reception camp’s boundary fence. Slyth and Garr flew low and fast, crisscrossing the inside of the camp, decapitating guards and creating panic among the goblin slaves who hid completely terrified beneath the wooden carts used to carry the emeralds.
Morweth and Brilith took Derr and Tan’s place, protected by some of Lox’s archers and Mica’s band of warriors, quickly setting up the crystal seeing bowl to direct the attack. When Glob, Brog and the rest appeared from behind the mine, the battle was practically at an end.
All around them lay the broken bodies of the former guards, a mixture of plains and mountain goblins, ogres, trolls and mountain gremlins. Some had missing limbs, some no head. Still others slowly bled to death. Most were burnt to a crisp by the powerful fire balls delivered by Yathle and her sister wyverns.
By nightfall the mine had been taken. The rest of Lox’s elven archers had quickly dispatched the remaining few guards when they burst forth from inside the mine. Neo led a party deep underground to bring out the slaves. Once Morweth was certain that the mine was finally empty, he cast a spell which sealed it forevermore.
While the battle for Crellan’s mine raged below him, Bejuss circled overhead. Something in the distance caught his attention and he flew off to investigate.
Among the broken stones of Crellan’s ruined lair, the old bird’s one eye focused on a dirty bundle of clothing. Bejuss landed and hopped over to the writhing pile. A tiny helpless baby with rapidly reddening skin screamed when it saw him towering over it. The baby looked up at him with pursed lips and defiant, yet tearful eyes. Bejuss gently gathered together the clothing around the infant thinking it was cold then quickly flew back to Brilith. She soon returned astride Yathle’s back following the old bird.
Brilith instantly recognized the jagged birthmark on the baby’s badly sunburnt chest. The spell of undoing had done something completely unexpected. Crellan had suddenly woken up in great pain when strong sunlight struck him and began burning his exposed skin. In the distance, he could hear the sounds of battle going on. Why was he awake, it wasn’t dusk? What had happened to him? He lay in the rubble of his former home, thoroughly bewildered and covered in dust, unable to speak, stand or move. For the first time in his long life, he experienced real fear when the jet black raven suddenly appeared with its massive razor sharp twisted beak close to his face.
“So Crellan my lad, just wait until Morweth and the rest see what has happened to you,” she said laughing softly as she gently cradled the bad tempered infant black wizard in her arms.
Bejuss cocked his head, clearly still puzzled. He watched Crellan throw a tantrum. The black wizard stuck out his tongue and thrashed his chubby fists and legs in the air trying to hit Brilith. All he got for his petulant outburst was a smacked bottom which reduced him to tears, increasing his pain tenfold, much to Bejuss’ great delight. To add insult to injury, Yathle joined in Crellan’s humiliation by licking his sunburnt face with her long rough tongue, making him squirm even more, with a mixture of revulsion and great pain.
The black wizard would experience many more deeply humiliating incidents like this as he grew up for the second time. He would suffer Brilith’s no-nonsense attitude, and the inevitably painful chastisement administered by her for each transgression of her rules, many more times in the future. She was determined to change his ways. He tried to curse and blaspheme, but nothing came out of his mouth except screams, dribble and bubbles. The hidden world of Goblindom would be safe for a few more years now that it’s most dangerous son’s dark plans of domination had finally been ended.
Fortunately, the one thing the spell had not done was to wipe the vast knowledge of black magic from his mind. Thanks to this particular spell of undoing, Goblindom’s equilibrium had been maintained. White magic and black still existed.
See what happens to you when you have delusions of grandeur?
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