Apathy Rules…

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It’s a sad fact but reader apathy is on the rise.

When I posted this, deep down I knew there would be little interest due to the modern day curse – reader apathy.

Only one person wanted to read and review the third and final edition of my fantasy anthology – Goblin Tales. I gave twelve of you the choice to read it prior to publishing for nothing. All I wanted in exchange was a positive review from each of the twelve. While a few of you (13) clicked ‘like’, that was as far as any of you was prepared to go.

To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. But it’s what most authors expect these days, despite all of our hard work. By not taking up my offer, which would cost you nothing but a bit of your time, you killed a wonderful fantasy anthology, depriving the rest of the english speaking world of the chance to immerse themselves in it…

The ultimate irony is that had eleven more of the thirteen people who ‘liked’ the post taken up the offer to email me for their free .pdf copy to read and review, this post would never have been written. But it’s still not to late for you to change your minds. Just follow the instructions on the previous via the above link in red.

Remember – books need to be read, not ignored…

😉

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Pay attention!

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Right, I’ve finished the rewrite of my fantasy anthology Goblin Tales. The next stage is to format it, first as an e-book, then later in paperback form. But only if there is a demand for it.

Now here’s where you come in.

If and I do mean if I publish it, depends entirely on you my blog followers, all 680 of you.

To that end I have prepared a .pdf version for a minimum of twelve people to read – 160 pages in all. Or if you prefer – 84,768 words. If you would like to be one of the lucky twelve (even if fantasy is not your thing) email me at:

jackeason5@gmail.com.

Remember, if twelve of you don’t come forward wanting to read and positively review it, Goblin Tales will not be published; it’s as simple as that!

I would ask you to remember this as well; a five-star review is not a critique, riddled with spoilers, no matter how glowing (or gushing) it may be. Nor is this an excuse to compose a diatribe designed to put people off reading the book in question!

Reality dictates that no e-book lasts long these days without a flurry of positive reviews, right from the get go. Should you chose to help out, I shall place Goblin Tales in an ‘order only’ time frame of one month to give all twelve of you thirty days to post your review on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Would I refuse to publish a book I’ve been telling you all about by offering you selected passages from it? Of course I would if it is greeted with a lacklustre response prior to publishing!!!

Hope to hear from you soon,

Jack

😉

One more Goblin Tale

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Thicker Than Sap

     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 one eyed raven with the twisted beak, hide a fugitive.

~~~

     Glob was having a wonderful dream. He was laying on a bed of freshly picked oak leaves beneath the ancient branches of the ancestor oak, being fed honeycomb by her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook, mother of all, lying beside him naked as the day is long, while she gently kissed his forehead and stroked his leathery old ears, making him squirm in ecstasy. His nose however was definitely not dreaming. It twitched violently. The next moment he woke barely able to breath, choking on the pungent fumes that filled the entire household.  Bejuss felt sick, so sick in fact that he fell from his customary perch in the rafters to the floor. His eye watered as he did the best he could to cover his nostrils with the thick flight feathers of one wing. Make felt distinctly queasy. Half awake, he filled his bestest briar pipe with a plug of his honeysuckle flavoured tobacco, lit it, and inhaled deeply before filling the room with smoke to drive off the stench. The combination of the pungent smell and thick tobacco smoke woke Mous who immediately threw up on their still sleeping younger brother, simpleminded Byz. Neo could not stand the overpowering smell either. In sheer desperation he covered his face with his cobweb blankets in an attempt to get away from it. His stomach heaved violently. Leaping out of bed with one hand clamped firmly across his mouth, he rushed to the window. Quickly flinging it open, he began breathing in sweet lungfuls of fresh air through his long pointed goblin nose. But it was too late. His stomach had simply had enough. It decided to revolt by emptying its contents, spraying them through his fingers, down the gnarled bark of the old oak. “Rarrk – wot jutht died?” Bejuss cried as he flew rapidly through the opened window, glad to be outside in the fresh air.

Make and Mous both ran for the door to escape the foul odour. But it was strongest there. Something was blocking it from the outside, preventing them from flinging it wide open. Byz crawled inside one of the kitchen cupboards in a desperate attempt to get away from the smell, but to no avail. The poor soul threw up in the nearest thing at hand, Neo’s favourite mead mug. Glob staggered across to the window from his own bed, far greener in the face than was natural for a southern woods goblin, and stuck his head outside beside his cross-eyed curmudgeonly brother who was slowly recuperating.

From the twig he perched on among the sweet smelling leaves of their oak tree home, Bejuss eventually spied the problem. Huddled against their door was a pathetic figure. He was practically naked, clad only in a filthy flax loincloth, and shivering uncontrollably despite sweating profusely from fever, which added to the overpowering stench from his body. On his head he wore a faded red batwing parchment convict skull cap, with tattered flaps that barely covered his ears. Grey hair flowed in tangles across his shoulders. His long pointed nose stuck out above a white bedraggled moustache and a long filthy beard which grew down to his chest. The only other item of clothing he wore was a pair of tattered willow bark boots, from which the blackened nails of his toes protruded. Great clouds of flies surrounded him, while maggots feasted on the dead flesh of his many wounds. “Rarrk – there’th thomeone laying againtht our door Glob; he don’t look well. Maybe he’th dead,” Bejuss reported, making sure not to get too close to the cause of the gut-wrenching smell.

Glob nodded, sighed, and began climbing out through the window to investigate. When his bare feet finally felt the rough bark of the great bough beneath them, Glob studied the bag of bones for a few moments. “It can’t be – I’s wos sure yer wos dead! What happened lad, where’ve yer been all these summers?” he exclaimed as he finally recognised the source of the foul disgusting odour.

The pathetic creature struggled to open its glued up eyes. “I’s is already dead in Brag’s eyes Glob, yer mus help me, I’s begs yer. I’s bein hunted by Grizweavil Bragsbill. He wants ter flay me hide orf me body cos I’s escaped his punishment gang. Make no mistake; he’ll do it whether I’s is dead or alive.”

Glob took a deep breath before gently picking up the pathetic stinking creature, shifting him away from the door. After it was finally flung wide by Make, and the entire household were at last able to breath fresh air, Glob introduced their smelly visitor. “Brothers, this is Limberespan Van der Graff, me long lost twig cousin. Lim these is me brothers, Neopol Stranglethigh, Makepeace Terranova, Eponymous Tringthicky n Byzantine Du Lac. This here raven is me good friend Bejuss,” he said finally, as the old bird perched on his shoulder, quickly covering his nostrils with one wing. After Glob and Make had tended to his festering wounds using honeycomb and fresh sphagnum moss, before bathing, feeding and clothing him, Lim began his story.

~~~

     He and Glob were born from adjacent acorns, harvested from the Van der Graff twig which grows out of the fourth largest limb of the ancestor oak. As we already know from her magnificence’s previous explanation to Glob, when the acorns are carefully selected by her, they are taken to the birthing room to maintain the finite number of goblins living within Goblindom. For the first six summers of their lives the twig cousins were extremely close. They often found themselves defending one another, whenever the other young goblins ganged up on either of them. To emphasise how close they were back then, Lim informed Glob’s brothers, “blood is thicker than sap yer knows. After all, me n Glob is froms the same twig.” Glob nodded his old head, remembering those innocent days so long ago. When they were finally released into Goblindom, Glob took the path south to the southern oak woods, while Lim headed east towards the jagged range of mountains, known as the Widow Spires. Magical Goblindom always allows each new goblin younger one moon to find its true place within its boundaries, before it finally transforms them into one of three goblin types, plains, wood, or mountain. Many times over the intervening summers Glob heard what he thought were far-fetched tales of Lim’s escapades. And so when Lim said he had just escaped from penal servitude, Glob finally realized the tales were true after all.

Curmudgeonly old Neo grew more angry by the second, sitting by the fireplace staring at the flickering flames through his constantly crossing eyes. The cause of this, his latest bout of displeasure, was the fact that Glob and the rest had temporarily placed Lim in in his bed to recover. “So, wots did yer do ter gets yerself in truble this time thens?” he growled, while his crossed eyes danced violently back and forth as his anger grew.

Lim ignored the angry outburst and gratefully accepted Make’s freshly filled spare pipe, lit it with a taper proffered by Mous, lay back for a moment enjoying the comfort of Neo’s bed and the sweet taste of the honeysuckle flavoured tobacco. “I’s wos always in truble wiv our chief, Monkwig Gribblehang,” he slowly began. “I’s can’t help meself yer sees. I’s just steals things wot take me fancy. Each times I’s wos caught, Monk sent me ter one work gang or other. But this last time, I’s really cooked me goose so ter say, when I’s stole Monk’s bestest briar pipe n his supply on mountain dew flavoured tobacco. He sent me orf in elf chains ter Grizweavil Bragsbill’s punishment gang. Anyone wot gets sent there, never comes back alive. Brag is the most dangerous n murderous on us mountain goblins n an excellent shot wiv the huntin bow. When Monk declares war on another goblin chief, Brag is his first choice to lead his army. If he sets his mind ter killin, yer is nought but walkin dead! One night a moon back, I’s tooks me chance n hid as we wos bein taken back ter our camp. For nearly half the moon I’s has been headin west n south, hidin by day n movin by night. Brag took it personal when I’s escaped n started huntin me wiv his pack on hungry timber wolves, wot he uses ter controls his prisoners. Five nights back I’s thought he had finally caught me. I’s wos makin me way through Athol’s Pass, just east on here. Takin a rest, I’s wos caught by one on his wolves wot suddenly appeared n grabbed me leg. It began shakin me sumink fierce as it tried ter drags me back up the pass ter Brag. I’s cud hears him yellin orders ter his other wolves not far off. I’s managed ter gets free by sticking me fingers in its eyes. It’d ripped me leg ter shreds as yer can plainly see. I’s crawled inside an old fallen log, but it reached in n grabbed me arm. I’s thought it were goin ter bites it orf. But’s I’s managed ter clench me fist n shove it down its throat, choking it ter death. Thens last night I’s finally found meself here in yer valley, n made me way here. The rest yer know.”

~~~

     Mica and his portly friend Cantor were returning to the village from the south, where they had been trading with the next humin village. They had stopped to visit Neo’s mentor and great friend Grimefleet Binglenook, the last of the elder goblins. They both sat with him outside the door of his home on the largest bough of his oak tree. With his ornately carved snail shell ear-trumpet stuck in his relatively good ear, Bingle listened to Mica’s news. Because of the ancient goblin’s increasing deafness Mica found he had to speak directly into the ear-trumpet. Cantor took advantage of the moment, quietly eating the last of the food his wife had packed for the trip, while Mica and Bingle talked in the warmth of the morning sun.

From somewhere close by, a chilling howl made their hair stand on end. Mica motioned to Cantor to climb higher while he scooped up the tiny goblin in his arms and quickly followed. As they watched, hidden from view by the old oak’s thick coat of leaves, they saw first one, then a second timber wolf cautiously circle the oak’s great trunk, sniffing all the while. Soon a well-muscled and unusually tall mountain goblin archer and three more wolves hove into view below. “Wot dids yer finds me lovelies?” Brag quietly asked as he surveyed the oak. He loved his wolf pack more than life itself. Each was like a son to him. His cruel black eyes spied Bingle’s front door. He quickly climbed up onto the bough and unshipped his powerful bow from across his broad back. Nocking an arrow, he entered the ancient goblin’s home before soon reappearing, scowling with disappointment. He quickly climbed down and re-joined his faithful wolves. “Nothing, he aint here me lovelies, don’t worry we’s will finds him soon enuff. Thens yer can tears him apart n fill yer bellies, after I’s has killed him slowly for murdering yer brother that is.” The five wolves all bared their fangs at the thought of sharing in Brag’s revenge for their dead sibling. The fearsome mountain goblin had not forgiven what Lim had done. When he found the lifeless body of the youngest wolf, he slashed the palm of his hand with his sword, swearing a blood oath of revenge over the corpse. Now he was more determined than ever to find his missing prisoner. His wolves warily sniffed the air. They could smell goblin on the wind. But they could also smell humins too, which made them nervous. Brag began to walk in the direction of the humin village with his faithful wolves ranging all around him, searching for Lim’s scent amongst the rest.

“Who’s he after?” Cantor whispered as they slowly descended with one eye on the departing goblin and wolves.

“Not sure, but you can be certain he’s not here on a friendly visit. Circle round him and head for Glob’s place. My guess is he’s hunting one or other of our goblin friends. I’ll follow him to see where he goes,” Mica whispered. The two humins left only after making sure old Bingle was well and truly hidden, deep inside his oak tree’s hollow trunk. When Cantor reported the news to Glob and his brothers, the defence of Lim began in deadly earnest.

~~~

     Brag carefully bypassed the humin village via the heavily wooded western slopes of the valley. He temporarily camped in Cazophen’s cave, sending out three of his wolves to scout out the area around the humin village.

Bejuss watched the unfolding scene below him from on high. After Cantor had reported Brag’s presence in the valley, he had been on his way to recruit his griffin friends Slyth and Garr for what would inevitably occur, when the old bird spied a lone timber wolf descending from Cazophen’s cave, heading towards the goblin brother’s home. He watched it deliberately circle through the woods, following Lim’s scent on the northern side of the humin village. The wolf briefly stopped beneath their oak, before heading off in search of the two other wolves that were sniffing the ground behind Miranda’s stable. They had been temporarily distracted from their hunt for Lim by the thought of a mouth-watering four legged meal, after they came across the scent of the old mare and her foal. Curious to see where they had come from, Bejuss descended silently. He perched in the branches of a tree, hidden from view, above the cave. Peering intently through the foliage at the entrance, his one eye focused on Brag who was seated on a large stone, with two timber wolves sitting on their haunches at his feet.

A little further down the track Brag had taken to reach the cave, Bejuss spied Mica crouching behind a tree. He landed silently behind him, unseen. The old bird gently tapped Mica’s heel with his twisted beak before suddenly re-appearing, making the normally unflappable humin warrior jump. “Thorry,” he whispered as he hopped on to Mica’s shoulder. “Brag’th in there n he’th got two wolveth wiv him. The other three are behind Miranda’th houthe. One on them thniffed our houthe, then went ter fetch the other two, it mutht have thmelt Lim!”

“Brag, Lim – who are they? What are you talking about Bejuss?” Mica whispered his enquiry, clearly puzzled, as he kept an eye on the cave entrance.

Bejuss quickly realized Mica knew nothing of the unfolding events. “Begth pardonth Mica, me woth forgettin yer don’t know; me had better explain. Brag ith after Glob’th twig couthin Lim, coth he ethcaped from hith punithment gang n came here for help. They’re both mountain goblinth. Lim killed one on Brag’th wolf guardth on the way here. Accordin ter wot Lim told uth, Brag ith a murderin monthter. No one wot ith thent ter his work gang ever thurviveth!”

The look on Mica’s handsome face changed from curiosity to one of grim determination as the reason for Brag’s presence here so far away from his mountain home, finally became clear, thanks to Bejuss’ explanation. “Go and let Glob know what is going on old friend. Seek out Cantor and get him to gather our warriors together. Tell him from me to set a guard at your home and send some of our warriors to kill the three other wolves, before they can return to Brag with their news.” The old bird nodded his head. Quickly vanishing from view, he flew off. Once he had passed on Mica’s commands, he continued on his journey to fetch Slyth and Garr.

~~~

     The agonised howls of the three dying timber wolves when they were slain by some of Mica’s humin warriors, close to the goblin brother’s home, brought Brag’s malevolent mind back to reality. While he awaited his wolves return, he had been day dreaming about how he was going to torture, then skin Lim alive. His two remaining wolf sons ran beside him, eager for revenge, as he sprinted down the wooded slope of the western side of the valley. Abandoning his normally cautious ways, Brag ran through the humin village in a blind rage, bow at the ready. Mica’s friends, Verig, Jasper and Manx lay in wait, hidden behind the northernmost roundhouse, spears at the ready. Should Brag or either of his two remaining wolves get past them, Neo, Glob and Make were hiding behind an old tree stump in the northern meadow, between the village and their oak tree home. They were fully armed with their war clubs and razor sharp blue metal goblin blades.

Inside the house, Mous and Byz had barricaded the door with all of their furniture. Lim hid in a secret compartment in the largest cupboard the goblin brother’s possessed. Cantor placed himself in front of the cupboard as the last line of defence, bitterly regretting his impetuous decision, and feeling decidedly uncomfortable inside the cramped confines of the tiny goblin home. He could neither stand nor crouch, so he had to kneel with his head bent sideways. He was armed with his spear and his razor sharp flint bladed knife. Close at hand should he need it, was Neo’s second best war club. On the spur of the moment he had decided to squeeze himself inside. Glob, Neo and Make assisted by pushing him from behind, while Mous, Byz and Lim pulled on his arms from inside their home after he had temporarily got stuck in the tiny doorway, due to his fat belly. Neo had suggested that they leave him wedged in the door. To the old curmudgeon’s way of thinking, what better way was there to stop Brag entering? Then all they had to do was defend the window. Cantor took immediate angry exception to the suggestion. Though his head and shoulders were inside the goblin brother’s home, he somehow detected where Neo was and lashed out with one foot, kicking the cross-eyed old curmudgeon where no goblin, or humin male for that matter, should ever be kicked. Neo bent double in extreme agony. The unbelievable pain emanating from his groin temporarily straightened his naturally crossed eyes. Intense white spots danced across his eyesight, temporarily blinding him. Struggling for breath, the old curmudgeon quickly grunted his apology through gritted teeth. After Cantor had finally got inside the goblin brother’s home, Neo tottered off and sat at the other end of the bough among the leaves, rocking back and forth and crying like a younger, while tenderly cradling the painfully bruised part of his anatomy for a considerable length of time.

~~~

     Brag’s sharp eyesight detected movement on either side of him. The villagers were fast closing with him and his wolves. As he ran blindly forward, well aimed spears quickly found their targets. Soon Brag stood alone. He readied himself, arrow nocked. The taught string of his bow sang in the breeze as he fired wildly. If he was going to die, he would make sure he took as many as he could with him. Large shadows appeared on the ground where he stood as Slyth and Garr dived towards the mountain goblin archer. In a few moments Brag’s life ended when Garr ripped his head off his shoulders with one swift bite. As the mountain goblin’s headless body relaxed, his last arrow flew free, passing harmlessly through Slyth’s flight feathers.

Once the brief fight was over, his body and those of his wolves were unceremoniously dumped in the middle of Athol’s pass as a warning to anyone else who thought of entering the peaceful valley with murder on their minds. After Bingle had been retrieved from his hiding place and reinstalled on his rocking chair outside his door, Glob, his brothers, and Bejuss, had a pressing problem. The old goblin posed a question to Mica and his warriors. “Wots we’s goin ter do bout Cantor? He can’t get outs on our home. His fat belly won’t let him.” The extreme nervous tension the humin warrior endured while waiting for Brag’s assault had made him hungry. He had helped himself to their entire store of honeycomb, dried fish and mead.

Verig smirked and winked as he replied, “looks like he’ll just have to be your guest for a while longer Glob; at least til he slims down that is. Meantime you and your brothers are welcome to stay with us.” As Glob and Mica led the party of humin warriors, goblins and griffins back to the village where Agnitha, her daughter Ylesse, and the women were preparing a victory feast, the sound of raucous laughter echoed throughout the valley. Still nursing his painful groin, Neo smiled to himself at the thought of Cantor being trapped. Bejuss briefly perched on the windowsill of their home, peering inside at the unfortunate Cantor, wondering how long the humin would be there. Then, smelling the feast he flew off to the village. A bowl of juicy slugs, worms and snails awaited his attention.

From deep inside the cupboard behind the decidedly overstuffed Cantor, a pathetic voice cried out, “Glob, anyone? Cans yer hear me? Cans I’s comes out now? Is it all over?” In the heat of the moment, Glob’s twig cousin Lim had been completely forgotten about…

PS – Neo learnt a painful lesson, don’t you think? 🙂

More later

😉

Hands up…

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Akhen

…who read my science fiction space opera Onet’s Tale, the sequel to Turning Point, the science fiction story I wrote in 1995? Not many of you I suspect since after falling out with me, the publisher pulled it off the market!

A few days ago I was looking for some of my unused saved material for my fantasy anthology Goblin Tales, which I am currently re-working. In amongst everything stored in the sideboard I came across my original MS for the story in question under its original title – The Berserker Saga, saved on a CD. Before you ask, I wrote it while on a trip back to New Zealand in 2003. Needless to say I spent many months more than I intended back in Nzed while I wrote it. It all came to an abrupt halt when my then laptop objected to having coffee spilt all over it. Thank god for the CD!

After returning here to the UK it would be seven years before I was in the position to offer it for consideration to a publisher, let alone afford a replacement laptop. As it was, it was available on Amazon for barely six months back in 2010…

So, once I have finished re-working Goblin Tales, I’ll be tackling The Berserker Saga once again, minus all the nonsense the publisher insisted must be added, such as his curriculum vitae of the characters, just because he couldn’t remember who is who, plus his adding his and his then business partner’s names to the by line. The latter being the reason we fell out!!!

The more astute among you will have read it chapter by chapter already, since I published it here on my blog over many weeks last year. As its 102, 518 words in length on 196 A4 pages, which equates to a little over 324 pages for both the ebook and print versions, I fully expect it to occupy me for most of next year (2018).

More later

😉

 

One more re-written…

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Slyth the Griffin, in yet another of the thirty adventures in my fantasy anthology – Goblin Tales

~~~

I Want To Go Home

     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 one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, set out on a desperate search.

~~~

     Neo and little Ylesse sat in Miranda’s feed trough out of sight of anyone passing the old mares stable, watching her eat. “Uncle Neo, why don’t your eyes stay still?” Ylesse wondered, getting dizzy as she sat on the goblin’s knee feeding Miranda, and trying desperately to follow wherever Neo’s crossed eyes wandered. If anyone else had asked such a personal question, they would have immediately felt the painful effects of Neo’s club on their head.

“Cos I’s wos born that way,” he smiled, while holding out a handful of oats for the old mare to eat, “I’s gots used ter it see. I’s can sees as well as any other when it comes ter it. It’s just that I’s sees two on everythin.”

“But uncle how do you know which one is real when you look at someone?”

“Why bless yer gentle heart sweets, I’s always figures it out. I’s just hits em wiv me club. Whichever one yells is the real one,” he replied, laughing out loud.

Ylesse giggled, hugged his leathery old neck and kissed his long pointed nose. “Oh uncle Neo I do love you so, but you are such a fibber. You never hit me,” she replied with a smile on her innocent young face.

“That’s cos I’s knows that wot I’s sees is both on yer,” Neo winked. Ylesse giggled and kissed his nose once more, making the old goblin blush deeply while he nervously peered over the side of the trough, not wishing anyone to know that he had a very soft side to him. He couldn’t help but notice how much she took after her beautiful mother Agnitha. One day soon she would steal the heart of a young humin boy, the way fair Agnitha had stolen Mica’s. When that time came, whoever he may be, he would also have to pass doting Neo’s long list of demands regarding her health, welfare, honour and happiness, let alone that of her parents. In the old goblin’s eyes, no one would ever be worthy of his darling humin niece’s affections. Miranda nuzzled them both in thanks as she ate the fresh oats that they had brought her. None of them noticed the intruders who silently stole into the stable until it was too late…

~~~

     Night had fallen when Neo vaguely became aware that he was being shaken violently. “Neo wake up, wake up blast you. Where’s my Ylesse, wake up dammit!” Mica yelled as his rush light illuminated the semi-conscious old goblin. He shook him so hard that his teeth began to rattle.

Neo moaned and slowly returned to full consciousness. “Urgh wot hits me?” he muttered, gingerly feeling the large bump on the back of his head. Glob sat beside him, after Mica had finally put him down, while his fogged crossed eyes began to slowly clear.

“Where’s Ylesse brother, where is she?” Glob demanded as Neo’s brain returned to normal.

Miranda neighed and stamped her hooves on the stable floor. Make puffed on his bestest briar pipe and stooped to look at what she had seen. “There’z three clear zetz on footprintz Glob look!” Mous declared from behind his brother, pointing to the marks as he followed them back outside into the darkness.

Mica held Agnitha close. “I want my baby back Mica, I want my Ylesse,” she said, sobbing her eyes out and burying her face tearfully in his chest.

~~~

     The Weavilmark brothers, Mithhandle and Stewstring, sat staring nervously at their vicious and totally unpredictable leader, Sloweye Narglemouth. “Yer sure bout this is yer Narg?” Mit wondered. Stealing a humin child was not their normal line of business.

“Wot d’yer mean by that yer skinny bag o’ bones?” Narg yelled, glaring insanely at the brothers. “Keeps yer eyes peeled for intruders, both on yer – or else!”

“But why dids we stoles her Narg? We’s cant’s eat her can we? No one eats humins, theys taste nasty.” Stew added sheepishly, keeping a wary eye on Narg’s spiked war club.

“We’s stoles the humin brat for ransom yer stupid idiot. Now shuddup afor I’s smashes yer brains out!” Narg was beginning to regret bringing these two halfwits along on this job. If needs be they would serve as expendable decoys while he escaped with the child.

~~~

     Neo’s bandaged head ached like mad; he had a pounding headache. He sat through endless waves of pain while Glob and Mica tried to make sense of what had happened. Glob had sent Bejuss with a message to the mother of all, Hermione Fingletook, requesting Grassnit’s help. With the best tracker in Goblindom following the trail, hopefully little Ylesse would soon be safe and sound in her mother’s arms by the end of the coming day. Make and Mous returned empty handed a few hours later, having followed the three sets of footprints in the dark until they mysteriously vanished before their eyes on the western trail through the southern woods.

When Bejuss reappeared with Grassnit they were not alone. Slyth the Griffin, and his brother Garr, had come without hesitation at Bejuss’ request. Normally they would have ignored a plea for help from goblins, preferring to hunt them instead. But Slyth had formed a bond of deep friendship with Bejuss during the battle with Kilycke the black dragon, owing his continued existence to the old raven’s prompt action. If Ylesse had been kidnapped and not merely run away as the young of all kinds are apt to do on occasion, the chances were he already knew who the likely culprits would prove to be. “I know but one goblin foolish n greedy enuff ter kidnap yer daughter Mica,” Slyth hissed, “his name is Sloweye Narglemouth. He’s a nasty piece on work. He used ter be a captain in her magnificence’s army. But Hermione had him flogged n dismissed for stealin. He’d think nothing on killin yer younger if he don’t get paid ter return her. He may even kill her if he does. He don’t care about anyone but hisself. Garr saw him wiv two mountain goblin brothers by the name on Mithhandle n Stewstring Weavilmark yesterday. The three on them were headin this way.”

Garr nodded his head in agreement. “I know where their camp was yesterday. I’ll fly over n see if they is still there,” he volunteered, rapidly taking to the air and vanishing into the night.

By now Neo was fully recovered and ready to smash heads with his war club. “Wot’s does they look like Slyth?” he demanded angrily, as his leathery old face took on a murderous aspect.

Slyth’s inscrutable face gave no hint of his loathing for goblins. For a split second he briefly considered snacking on the old goblin before quickly dismissing the notion. “Narg is a plains goblin; grey in colour, bearded n wears body armour. He has two fangs sticking out on his mouth. He favours a spiked war club. He’s a formidable goblin warrior, known for his brutality in battle. Mit n his brother Stew on the other hand, are mountain goblins, stupid n easily led. They have long hooked noses, large torn ears which lay back behind their pointed heads, n tall skinny brown bodies. The only clothes they wear are tattered loin cloths. Neither carries any kind on weapon except for wooden staffs.”

Garr’s sharp eyesight soon picked out the shapes of the three kidnappers in the darkness. The two razor sharp halves of his large birdlike beak clacked together at the pleasurable thought of ripping off goblin legs. Seeing no sign of Ylesse in the goblin’s camp, he flew silently back to the humin village to report.

~~~

     By the time the sun’s first rays showed in the east, the rescue team of angry and determined humin warriors and wood goblins, led by Grassnit, and closely shadowed by a vengeful Neo out for revenge, silently surrounded the unsuspecting trio. Mica whispered to Bejuss to seek out his daughter. The old bird duly flew off and perched directly above the kidnappers for a few moments, cocking his head left and right listening for any sign of her whereabouts. Meanwhile, Slyth and Garr circled silently overhead, hungrily waiting for the signal to strike. Mica and his fellow humin warriors hid from view behind the ancient tree’s surrounding the glade where the kidnappers had made their temporary camp. Glob, Nit, Make and Mous crawled forward through the long grass behind Neo armed with their clubs towards the sleeping trio.

~~~

     Ylesse didn’t know where she was. All she knew was that her prison was dark and damp, and full of all manner of creatures that crawled all over her. She could feel worms and snails squirming around beneath her naked legs. The frightened little girl shrieked when a bat’s wing brushed her face. “I want to go home,” she sobbed. Her tears left clean trails as they slid down her dirt encrusted cheeks. “I want uncle Neo, I want my mummy,” she cried, desperately trying to free herself from the rough twine wound tightly around her hands and feet.

She screamed when large wings brushed her face. “Rarrk – me hear princeth,” the old bird lisped as quietly as he could. He began to peck at her bonds, slowly fraying them until little Ylesse was finally free. “Rarrk – yer father told me ter find yer n thtay wiv yer till the nathty goblinth wot thtole yer hath been caught. Yer uncle Neo ith ready ter do battle wiv them princeth, we mutht thtay here till the battle ith over.”

Even though Ylesse couldn’t see him in the darkness of her prison, she stroked the brave old bird’s feathers as he perched on her hand, lifting her spirits. “When can we go home Bejuss, I want my mummy?” Ylesse whispered tearfully in his ear.

“Thoon princeth, very thoon,” was all he said, doing his best to console her.

~~~

     Narg lay on his side dreaming of the jewels he would demand in ransom. Mit lay on his back snoring loudly. His brother Stew sat resting his head on his staff, struggling to keep his eyes open while on watch. Just because he was the youngest, he saw no good reason why he had to be the one on guard. He could hear the muffled shrieks of the humin younger from beneath the large stone he sat on. Putting her in the hole and covering it, kept her from being seen or heard by anyone passing close by. Mit had wanted to gag her but Narg had said no. The savage insane brute delighted in hearing her frightened screams whenever an insect crawled over her, or a bat brushed her with its wings. Throwing her trussed up little body into the hole was her punishment for biting him when they snatched her. What none of them realized was that there was another tiny entrance to her temporary prison, large enough for a child to squeeze through, which old Bejuss had found quite by accident while listening for her among the roots of the oak tree he had initially perched on.

~~~

     At the sound of Mica’s battle horn Slyth and Garr dived down at lightning speed. Neo charged with his war club swinging menacingly above his head closely followed by his brothers and Nit. Mica and his warriors ran from their own hiding places with their flint headed spears at the ready, screaming their terrifying battle cry. Narg leapt to his feet instantly awake, slashing with his spiked war club at Neo as he closed with him, ripping flesh from the old goblin’s shoulder. The last sight Narg saw in this world was Neo’s triumphant bloodied face grinning back at him as Slyth’s opened beak snapped shut, instantly beheading the loathsome brute.

Stew ran for his life as fast as his spindly legs would allow. Neo now angrily gave chase with bloody murder on his mind. He hurled his club at the lanky mountain goblin’s legs tripping him and sending him sprawling. Before Stew could rise, Neo leapt upon him like an insane animal biting deep into his ears, face and neck, trying to gouge out his eyes with his sharp nails. Make soon arrived and swung his club hard, knocking the mountain goblin senseless. Still not fully awake, Mit found himself pinned to the ground under Mica’s heavy foot, feeling his ribs snap as Ylesse’s father put all his weight to good use. He lifted the badly crushed and terrified goblin effortlessly by the neck and threw him at Garr’s feet. The griffin nodded his head in thanks like a grateful hungry dog does when its master throws it a bone. Holding the seriously injured goblin down with one large claw, he slowly tore him limb from bloody limb with his razor sharp beak.

Mous pulled the still angry Neo from the now unconscious Stew. “He haz ter ztand trial for hiz crimez brother, leave him be. He ain’t goin nowhere; he’z unconciouz.”

“Lets me be! I’s wants ter murder him, n tears him apart wiv me bare hands. If’s he harmed a hair on my Ylesse’s head, I’ll rips out his black heart, I swears it on the great book on law!” Neo screamed, with Stew’s green goblin blood still dripping from his sharp pointed teeth. He tried desperately to free himself from his brother’s firm grip to get his hands back on the unconscious body laying at his feet on the grass, bleeding profusely from where Neo had torn viciously into his ears.

“Uncle Neo I want to go home…” The old goblin suddenly smiled, relaxed and turned round. He ran to little Ylesse with tears of joy in his crossed eyes, scooping her up in his leathery arms as she jumped from her father’s and ran towards him. An overwhelming feeling of relief filled the old goblin’s heart as they hugged each other. “Take me home uncle Neo,” Ylesse said, clinging tightly to him with tears in her young eyes, before adding, “uncle, your hurt,” after she saw the vicious wound on Neo’s shoulder.

“Taint nothing sweets. It’s worth it so long as yer’s safe,” Neo replied, wincing when she gently touched his wounded shoulder. Mica smiled as he and everyone there, Slyth and Garr included, followed behind the old goblin as he gently carried his humin niece home. He was happy to see her safe and sound once more with her devoted goblin guardian.

The unconscious and bleeding surviving kidnapper was tied securely and carried on a pole between two of Mica’s fellow villagers. Garr and Slyth walked beside him poking him with their razor sharp beaks and licking his body with their tongues while Bejuss sat on his chest angrily pecking lumps out of his face. When Stew was eventually taken in front of the wise council for trial, he would welcome the death sentence they would inevitably bring down upon his worthless soul…

More later

😉

Here’s another one for you…

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A Dangerous Affair

     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 one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, are confronted by a perplexing mystery.

~~~

     After a long cold winter, spring had finally returned. With the demise of the giant black dragon, life for all inside Goblindom’s borders had once again resumed its erratic path. Trolls like Boggis continued setting traps to catch unwitting goblins for the pot. Ogre’s still terrified anyone foolish enough to enter their domain. Griffins caused trouble wherever they could in their own particularly ferocious manner. Crellen the black wizard resumed his evil ways. In the western mountains, gremlins again raided those closest to them intent on murder and mayhem, and his esteemed magnificence, Obadiah Fingletook, the grand high goblin, continued to annoy all those unfortunate enough to encounter him.

In the goblin brother’s home, simpleminded Byz stole Bejuss’ food to play with. Make and Mous interminably argued over everything and nothing like a pair of naughty goblin younglings. Neo’s foul temper grew ever shorter at their behaviour, and long suffering Glob sighed and shook his head, wondering if their home would ever be a peaceful one. Whereas in the clearing beyond the woods, Mica and the rest of his fellow humins had already begun re-building their village on the scorched earth where it previously stood before Kilycke wreaked so much destruction.

~~~

     To get some peace and quiet, Glob climbed to the oak’s topmost branches to check on the new season’s supply of acorns. Unable to contain his anger any longer, Bejuss pecked Byz sharply on his head making the simpleminded goblin cry, and flew through the open window to join Glob. “Rarrk – Byz ith thtealing me food agin mathter Glob – me fed up!”

Glob offered him a grub he had just skewered with the point of his sharp goblin blade as it attempted to burrow its way into an acorn. “Here yer is Bejuss, sticks wiv me lad. I’sll takes care on yer from now on. One things mind, I aint yer master, none on us is, just calls me Glob, alright?” The old goblin smiled as he watched Bejuss gratefully accept the juicy morsel from his outstretched hand. Between them they checked over each and every new acorn for pests of all kinds which Bejuss hungrily devoured. “Bout time ter gathers some acorns for yung Mica’s swine – fancy helpin me?”

Bejuss nodded enthusiastically, he always felt happiest in the old goblin’s company. “Rarrk – what’th thwine n how me goin ter help?” he asked, temporarily distracted by a passing bee, which he quickly caught and swallowed, before it could sting his throat.

Glob chuckled. “Swine is big creatures wot has curly tails, long faces n sharps tusks that Mica’s folk brought wiv them when they came ter stay in the valley, a long time back. Humins likes ter eat em, but theys prefer em fat n tasty see. Besides the swine rootin around the village for grubs n worms n suchlike ter eat, we’s helps Mica feeds em by givin em acorns too. Mica says it makes em taste better. Funny folk is humins Bejuss lad, theys don’t eat many plants n berries, theys likes ter eat cooked flesh. All yer gots ter do wiv the acorns is pick the best ones, snap em orf n drop em ter the ground. Once we’s got enuff, we’s gathers em up n puts em in the big old willow-bark boot Neo made ages back for Mous, n then we’s delivers em ter yung Mica.” Bejuss nodded once more and began enthusiastically helping by selecting the finest acorns he could find. With each deft slice of his sharp twisted beak, another plump acorn bounced its way down through the branches and leaves of the old oak to the ground below.

By mid-morning the pair decided they had picked enough. Glob began the long climb back down to their home. As his feet touched the large bough outside the goblin brother’s door, Bejuss flew up to him from the grass below with a puzzled look on his face. “Me can’t find any on the acornth we got Glob, they ith gone!”

Glob peered down at the grass beneath the bough. Sure enough not one acorn lay where it should have been. He climbed down to investigate with Bejuss following close behind. “Neo, Make, Mous, Byz – gets out here now!” Glob yelled as he scratched his head. Like Bejuss, he was completely puzzled by the mysterious disappearance. Where were the acorns – more to the point who had stolen them, and why? Four tiny heads peered nervously down from the great bough above. Glob glared accusingly up at his brothers while Bejuss continued searching in vain through the grass for the missing acorns. The old goblin was livid. Someone had committed a grave offence, punishable by death, according to goblin law. “Alright, which one on yer miserable grotkins stoles the acorns thens eh – come on, owns up else it’ll be the worse for yer! Me n Bejuss just spent all mornin gettin acorns for Mica’s swine, n now theys all gorn! One on yer stole em. When I’s finds out who done it, I’sll bash yer on yer bonce so hard yer’ll see stars for a moon or more, so I’s will. Thens I’sll drag yer orf in elf chains ter the wise council for terrible punishment!” he seethed, smashing his bony fists together, absolutely beside himself with fury.

None of his brothers had ever seen the normally placid older goblin like this before. Even Neo shivered with fright at the prospect of appearing before the wise council in chains, accused of such a thing. Byz immediately burst into tears. Make and Mous looked accusingly at each other. Neo gingerly climbed down to where Glob paced angrily back and forth with old Bejuss now sitting on his shoulder doing his best to look fierce and angry by puffing up his feathers, in support of his friend. Neo fell to his knees in front of his angry older brother, wringing his bony hands with tears welling up in his crossed eyes. “None on us stole em Glob, we promises. We wos inside all the time, honest! We heards em droppin n bouncin orf the branches, buts I’s swears we didn’t steals them – why wud we, we’s all knows the dreadful penalty for stealin acorns wot’s been picked special?”

From where he perched on Glob’s shoulder, Bejuss lowered his head and fixed Neo with his one good eye, staring intently into the pleading old goblin’s terrified, frantically crossing eyes, looking for any sign of guilt. “Rarrk – Neo ith tellin the truth Glob, he didn’t thteal em.” Then the old bird flew up to the other three, staring into each set of frightened eyes in turn, before returning to Glob. “Make, Mouth n Byz ith not guilty neither,” he said, shaking his head with bitter disappointment. Secretly he had hoped that Byz was the culprit.

Glob calmed down just a little. “Thens we’s gots us a thief round here somewhere, wot is stealin goblin’s acorns. We needs ter tells the mother on all, Hermione Fingletook, bouts this. It’s against everythin writ down in the great book on law,” he said as his anger slowly subsided.

~~~

     After he had summoned Yathle, she delivered him and Bejuss to the ancestor oak’s front door, much to the great relief of Glob’s brothers. Being angrily accused of a capital offence had clearly shaken them. As usual Obadiah ranted and raved, demanding to know why a lowly southern woods goblin, particularly him, had arrived unannounced. Glob and Bejuss completely ignored him and went straight to Hermione’s private apartments and knocked loudly on the door. The door was opened by young Heliotrope, looking a trifle flushed as if she had just run a very great distance. Glob’s heart pounded furiously at the sight of her bewitching beauty. She smiled sweetly when she enquired what they wanted, fixing Glob with her hypnotic mauve eyes while deliberately squeezing his hand. Her intoxicating perfume stirred the old goblin’s blood. She tenderly kissed Glob’s cheek making him blush, before pointing towards the terrace.

Hermione sat in the shade eating honeycomb cakes and freshly baked watercress delights, while sipping delicately on a cup of the finest acorn tea. Her eyes lit up when she saw her visitors. “Dear child, please bring more cups for our most welcome guests if you please,” Hermione commanded as she smiled at Glob and Bejuss.

“Yes mother dearest,” the beautiful young goblin replied, while smiling sweetly at Glob, before quickly disappearing to fetch two more acorn cups.

“Now my dears, what brings my favourite son and the most noble of the raven clan here I wonder?” Glob opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Heliotrope may have lost her deadly siren magic, but the effect she had over all goblin males, with the exception of Obadiah who only loved his own reflection, was growing steadily by each new moon.

“Beg’th pardonth yer magnificence,” Bejuss began, bowing low and spreading his wings, “me n Glob wath collecting acornth thith morning ter feed Mica’th thwine. When we had got enuff we went ter collect them from the grathth beneath the oak where we live, but there were no acornth anywhere. They had vanithed!” Still unable to speak, Glob gulped and nodded his head in agreement. Heliotrope returned with two cups, placing them before Bejuss and Glob. Hermione poured fresh acorn tea and offered her guests the choice of a delicious honeycomb cake or a fresh baked watercress delight. Hoping for a fat juicy slug, sadly Bejuss declined…

Heliotrope’s obvious amorous intentions towards Glob had not gone unnoticed. “Daughter, Globular and dear Bejuss have just brought a most perplexing situation to my attention. So I must ask you to leave us alone to discuss it in private,” she commanded. Heliotrope’s exquisite mauve eyes grew dark. She briefly pouted before slowly walking to the door in her most seductive way; mesmerizing Glob by the way her shapely hips swayed, increasing the desire for her within his very being. She briefly stopped to blow him one more kiss, and then closed the door quietly behind her. “My dears what you have just told me is most serious indeed. The wise council must be told straight away. Clearly a thief is present in your valley. I shall ask my chief scout Grassnit Thimblefoot to accompany you to investigate and apprehend the culprit. No matter who it may be, the law is quite clear. The penalty for stealing acorns is death!” As Glob, Nit, Yathle and Bejuss returned to the valley, no one noticed Heliotrope silently slip out from the ancestor oak.

~~~

     Nit closely studied the grass beneath the oak for any clue left by the thief. A little way off, Bejuss suddenly let out a cry of triumph. “Rarrk – footprintth, me found thome look!” A narrow track of bent grass led off to the western path in the wood. Glob and Nit stood looking at where Bejuss pointed with one wing while jumping up and down excitedly.

Nit knelt down to carefully study the footprints. “Hmm – tweren’t squirrels, nor swine neither,” he muttered as he searched among the old humin and animal tracks. Then his eyes lit up when he found a clear set of fresh goblin tracks made that very day, leading north. “Well Glob this ere track is simple enuff ter follow cos on the depth on each footprint,” he said with a smile. “Clearly the thief wos weighed down wiv his plunder. Peers he made no attempts ter disguises his tracks. We’d best gets movin affor it gets too dark,” Nit declared as he puffed furiously on his clay pipe, giving him the air of a learned investigator. “Better brings yer brothers alongs Glob. We may needs em if we has ter fight the thief along the way. Better tells them ter come armed, n while yer at it might be as well if yer ask yer humin friend Mica ter bring a couple on his kind wiv him ter help.” Within the hour the thief catching party of goblins, raven and humins were following closely behind Nit as he read all the sign on the path.

~~~

     Heliotrope carefully adjusted the soft lilac scented spider web pillows and sheets covered with fresh oak leaves, which she had carefully picked and spread across the bed, smiling at her efforts to make the place feel and smell so inviting. Meeting him again in the ancestral oak had finally made up her mind that Glob was the goblin of her dreams. While she could no longer induce the mating frenzy with deadly song, she could still make his blood rise using all of the feminine weapons at her disposal. She smiled to herself while gazing happily out of the window of her hidden love nest, daydreaming about what was to come. Heliotrope was on fire with longing for Glob. It was time to bring her chosen beau here. She knew it would not be easy, but she was determined. As any male in Goblindom knows, no matter what kind he may be, once a female chooses you, nothing short of running away to another land will ever deter her. Sometimes, not even then…

She looked approvingly at her beautiful reflection in a tiny pool of water beside the path she walked on as she headed south towards the old goblin’s home. She wore a pretty mauve primrose in her hair, matching her eyes. She smelled of sweet lavender. She was especially pleased with her careful choice of clothing, designed to reveal her curvaceous firm young figure to her intended mate.

~~~

     Glob and Mica sat beside the path exhausted. Nit had force-marched the group of thief catchers for most of the afternoon, in his obsessive need to catch the perpetrator of such a dastardly crime. Mica’s two humin volunteers, Griffith and Jaster sat talking and joking with Glob’s brothers. They drank some of Neo’s excellent mead while sharing in the feast Make had prepared. Bejuss perched on Glob’s shoulder gratefully accepting the slugs, worms and snails the old goblin fed him. Nit suddenly froze. “Shush, listen’s, someones coming – quick hides?” he hissed as he disappeared  behind a clump of thorn bush. Within the blink of an eye the party all followed his example.

Heliotrope appeared round the corner in the path, a vision of feminine loveliness and desire. Her inbuilt intuition told her that her goblin was somewhere close by. “Globy my sweet darling,” she called softly, as she cast her beautiful eyes around, searching for him. “Where are you my dearest love? Come to my arms.” Mous bit his tongue when Neo cuffed him as he was about to laugh out loud over the pet name Heliotrope used. Clamping his hand over Mous’ mouth, Neo hissed at him, indicating to his brother to keep silent, or else!

Glob stood up; by now totally under her spell. Heliotrope smiled with deep satisfaction. Sexual desire flowed through her veins as her intended mate walked trancelike towards her. She took his hand gently in hers, tenderly kissed his cheek, and walked back along the path with him, disappearing around the corner. Neo was about to leap to his brother’s aid, brandishing his club, when Nit seized his shoulder shaking his head. “Shush!” he whispered, waiting till he knew the pair was out of earshot. Then he beckoned the party to follow him.

“What’s going on Nit?” Mica whispered, also wanting to help rescue his old goblin friend.

“Shhh – look!” Nit pointed to Heliotrope’s footprints. “They’s the same ones we’s bin followin – see? Looks where she just stood, they’s match!”

“But wot bout Glob, he ain’t safe wiv her Nit, she’s truble!” Make declared, clearly frightened for his brother’s safety.

Nit smiled coldly. “E’s safe enuff for now lad; all’s we gots ter do is follow em n she’ll lead us ter where she stashed the stolen acorns. Er magnificence has long suspected yung Heliotrope was plannin summink like this. She wants a goblin realm of er own see, just like her magnificence’s sister Sherazid wanted. She mus av stole the acorns ter plant her own oak wood, another crime punishable by death. Now lets us follows em n see where she leads us.”

~~~

     Heliotrope sat Glob gently down on the bed. His blood and eyes were afire with sexual desire. His mind was in turmoil. He had totally lost all reason. The young goblin temptress tenderly kissed him and stroked his ears, invoking emotions within him that no goblin male should ever experience. She poured some extremely strong mead into a mug and made him drink. As the effects of the intoxicating brew, mixed with the animal feelings of lust for her rose within him, Glob finally lost the last remnants of his legendary self-control. In his frenzied state, he bit and licked her as he feverishly tore her clothing off, revealing her firm young body in all its naked beauty. His animal desire made him pull her roughly to him. The pair writhed on the bed while making love, completely unaware that Nit and his party were silently surrounding the oak where Heliotrope had built her love nest.

On a signal from Nit, Neo, closely followed by Make and Mous, burst through the door and snatched Glob who was still raging with animal lust for her. Make quickly bundled him outside and hit him on his head with his club, dazing him. As Glob’s legs buckled, Make pushed him off the bough to the waiting arms of Mica below. In her sexually frustrated fury, Heliotrope launched herself at Neo, screaming, spitting, biting, clawing and scratching. But he was too quick for her. He quickly knocked her out with his club. Make and Mous then bound her in elf chains and dragged her outside, still naked.

After Bejuss had checked to make sure his friend was alright, he flew to Nit with a look of triumph once more breaking out on his face. “Rarrk – me found the acornth Nit. They ith hid over there in that old tree thtump,” the old bird reported. Nit and Griffith followed Bejuss to where the seeds for Heliotrope’s future goblin domain, were carefully stored.

~~~

     By the end of the day, Mica, Griffith and Jaster had returned to the village and fed the retrieved acorns to their swine. The animals grunted contentedly, munching their way through their favourite sweet tasting food.

Young Heliotrope stood before the wise council still naked, held firmly by the elf chains, shivering and trembling with fear. Her fate was already sealed. She burst into tears when Nit, Bejuss, Neo, Make and Mous gave evidence against her. Byz was excused from giving evidence because of his simple mind, and Glob was clearly still in no fit state. Bingle, the last elder goblin had no choice but to pronounce the sentence of death upon her for the heinous crimes of treason and theft, to be carried out immediately by the court appointed executioner.

~~~

     Bejuss’ friend, Slyth the griffin, flew high into the air with the crying, naked young goblin female firmly held in his claws. If there was one thing a griffin liked it was ripping the legs off a goblin. But he would make sure that he did not end her life too quickly. He was going to enjoy carrying out his task. The fact that he had been deliberately selected by the wise council on Bejuss’ strong recommendation did not enter his mind, nor did Glob and his brothers ever know of it. Heliotrope’s tortured screaming was finally silenced as her tragic young life ended when Slyth eventually tired of playing with her and bit off her head.

For the next few weeks Glob lay tied firmly to his bed, with his green blood still on fire from the effects of Heliotrope’s evil carnal desires. Her magnificence, Hermione, mother of all, came to visit him, bringing a potion to relieve his condition. She was deeply saddened that she had allowed her most favourite son to be an unwilling pawn in the whole sorry and dangerous affair. Bejuss barely moved from Glob’s bedside as he slowly got better. The old raven chatted to him constantly in his lisping way, bringing him a ripe acorn to eat from time to time, or telling him about what was happening in the world outside, beyond the goblin brother’s home in the old oak tree. Goblindom had rid itself of another evil. How many more would appear in the summers to come was anyone’s guess…

~~~

More later

🙂

The latest tale to be re-worked

maxresdefaultI finished it yesterday…

~~~

Fell Whispers on the Wind

     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 one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, encounter a frightening beast from the past.

~~~

     As the last days of summer gave way to the cool windy days of autumn, Mica’s wife, the fair Agnitha, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who she named Ylesse after her grandmother. In the first three months of little Ylesse’s life, the goblin brothers where invited by Agnitha and Mica to be her guardians. Needless to say they took their duties to ensure her safety and happiness very seriously, especially grumpy old Neo, who she immediately crawled to when Mica and Agnitha brought her to visit them in their oak tree home for the first time. The normally bad tempered old goblin’s heart completely melted when the humin youngling clung to his neck, gurgling happily while she stuck a chubby finger into one of his nostrils, making his crossed eyes water. From then on, whenever Agnitha needed babysitters, she always knew that her precious daughter would be safe and sound in the goblin brother’s tiny home, being lovingly watched over by her five doting guardians and Bejuss.

~~~

     When winter finally took hold, knowledge of the child’s birth reached the ears of Geraint, the brother of the black witch Cazophen, killed so long ago by Glob and his friends. By midwinter’s eve the valley was completely transformed into a picture of frozen silent tranquillity under a thick blanket of snow. But all was not well. Mica and all the humins in the village were on edge. The howls of recently arrived timber wolves echoed throughout the valley surrounding the village. The humins knew that sooner or later they would come in search of an easy meal among their cattle, swine, goats and sheep.

One particularly crisp winter’s morning, Brilith arrived at the goblin’s home unannounced accompanying an elderly white wizard named Morweth, friend and teacher to all in the craft. Morweth’s sense of Geraint’s plan to do evil had been the reason for him leaving his home in the east. The ancient wizard sat down half frozen on a root of the goblin’s oak tree home, exhausted by the arduous ordeal of their long trip. “Glob, you must talk to Mica and ask him to convince his father-in-law Yestin to accompany him to the sacred glade. I have much that they both need to hear. Should either of them reject the suggestion, tell them that little Ylesse is in mortal danger, now go my friend.” Then he turned to the rest of Glob’s brothers and sent each one on an errand, simple minded Byz included, summoning all who dwelt in the southern wood to the meeting.

Glob left immediately for the house of Mica and Agnitha, while his brothers departed in different directions on their various missions. On hearing that baby Ylesse’s safety was the reason for the old wizard’s journey, Agnitha urged Yestin to accompany Mica and Glob to the glade, brooking no argument from him. Her father’s hatred of all things magic was legendary, but faced with his determined daughter, he relented.

When the trio appeared at the edge of the glade, they saw before them an assortment of Goblindom’s inhabitants. Elves, southern woods, plains, and mountain goblins stood shoulder to shoulder with humins. All of them assembled round the outer edge of the stone circle. Standing at its centre beside the oval alter stone, leaning heavily on Brilith’s shoulder, was frail Morweth. Yestin’s deep loathing of wizards and witches prevented him from drawing too close. But, for the sake of his precious granddaughter’s safety, he forced himself to listen.

Morweth cleared his throat, shifted his weight from Brilith’s shoulder onto the staff he carried and began. “Friends, I felt it my duty to come here today to tell you of the fell whispers on the wind. Good Yestin, while I know of your hatred of all magic, both black and white, I beseech you to listen without prejudice. Your granddaughter Ylesse is in the gravest of danger. Even as I speak Cazophen’s vengeful brother Geraint is preparing to steal her and make her his own. He is coming himself this time, sending no agent to do his bidding. Because Ylesse was born in autumn Yestin, like me, he knows she will one day be a powerful healer, as his sister would have been if you had not falsely declared her to be a witch because of your professional jealousy. He plans to turn Ylesse’s power for good towards the black arts instead. Ever since you condemned Cazophen, he has planned his revenge on you and your family. At this very moment he is conjuring great evil to fulfil his evil quest. Make no mistake Yestin, this time he means to come himself! I see clearly what form he will take.” Morweth staggered uncertainly on his feet, due to his great age and the effects of the freezing temperatures on his ancient frame. Brilith assisted him by taking his arm and gently guided him to sit on a small stone beside the altar. The white wizard’s speech had brought back to all assembled, the terrible memories of the day when Lungwort, the mountain gremlin, had arrived the summer before Ylesse was born, employed by Geraint to murder fair Agnitha.

Mica went to the centre of the circle. “Friend Morweth, how long before he comes?”

The ancient wizard lifted his head to look at Ylesse’s father for a few moments before replying, “even now he has sent his scouts to spy upon you and your family Mica. You have been hearing the howls of timber wolves in the hills surrounding this valley of late. They are his servants. He sees all through their eyes, hears all through their ears. How long before he comes? Soon – very soon. Certainly by the end of this current moon, two days hence.”

Glob, Neo, Make, Mous and Byz sat listening intently in silence, fearing yet another foul beast was about to enter their peaceful valley. Neo rose from his seat and climbed on top of one of the smaller upright stones of the circle so that all assembled could see him. “Begs pardons yer worship,” he began, bowing low as his eyes frantically crossed themselves, clearly nervous about what was going to happen, “we’s wood goblins wos just wonderin wot kinds on beasty he mights transforms hisself into?”

Morweth’s pale lined face darkened as his vivid blue eyes held nervous Neo in their steely gaze. “He means to transform himself into a giant wargob, young goblin.” Without exception, every goblin and elf assembled there trembled in fear at the revelation.

Make nervously tottered towards where the old wizard sat. “B-b-but a wargobs is a mythical beasty, tolds bout in bedtime’s stories ter scares yung goblins n elves if theys beens naughty sir,” he managed to stammer before wetting himself as he  shook with uncontrollable fear.

Morweth placed his bony hand on the tiny goblin’s shoulder, trying to comfort him as he replied. “Sadly lad, it’s no myth. Wargobs were real in the time before. In the great battle of Blaxhorn twixt good and evil before peace reigned, the evil black wizard Crellen created a great and terrible army of them, half bloodthirsty mountain goblin – half wolf, to conquer the world. I know Geraint has sought him out to learn how to transform himself into one.” With the exception of the humins, all the other kinds living in Goblindom firmly believed the widely held, oft spoken legend about the wargobs. Among all goblins and elves whether they were wood, plains or mountain, tales were told of a pack of ferocious wargobs nearly wiping out all their ancient forbears during the terrible battle of Blaxhorn. Only a precious few survived the wargob attack to continue the many ancient bloodlines. Mica and Yestin needed no further convincing after witnessing the frightened reaction among the goblins and elves, that Morweth was indeed telling the truth. All who had assembled quickly left the sacred glade in silence to prepare for the forthcoming inevitable battle.

~~~

     Geraint sat in his workshop checking all of the ingredients for his transformation one last time. Crellen had repeatedly warned him of the repercussions should he go through with the spell. Despite all, Geraint was so obsessed with his evil quest to seek revenge for his sister that he brushed aside the black wizard’s dire warning. By nightfall his transformation was complete.

~~~

     Yestin immediately called a meeting of the humins. Soon lookouts were dispatched to the borders of the village and beyond, covering the hills surrounding the valley along with all the many paths leading to it. Glob summoned Yathle and immediately went to demand that Obadiah Fingletook, the grand high goblin, join the fight. Should Obadiah object; Glob would expose to all in Goblindom who the real ruler was.

He demanded that Obadiah immediately recruit an army of mountain, wood and plains goblins and lead them into battle. The ornately adorned throne room where Obadiah sat echoed his shrilled reply to Glob’s demand. “Never, do you hear me – never! This is a humin affair, nothing whatsoever to do with goblins.”

On hearing the loud argument, her magnificence Hermione Fingletook, mother of all, sailed into the room like a ship of war under full sail, ready to fire a broadside. “You may stay here and hide like a coward if you wish Obadiah Fingletook. But your brave brother Glob and his friends need our help!” she fumed, glaring angrily at her first born. Obadiah sat on his throne with his head lowered; tears welled up in his eyes. His bottom lip quivered like a naughty goblin youngling who had just been found with his hand stuck in the honeycomb jar. Hermione immediately took charge of the situation. “Dearest Glob I shall raise you an army and lead it myself. How soon before the wargob appears?” Much relieved that their mother had taken charge, Glob told her that they expected the beast before the end of the moon.

~~~

     On his return to the valley the welcome news that a goblin army was on its way did much to cheer the humin, goblin and elf occupants of the valley. Not wishing to be left out, Bejuss had flown off to summon his avian cousins. Eagles, hawks, owls, crows, rooks and ravens all soon arrived, taking up station in the tree tops of the woods surrounding the village. Yathle flew off to summon her many sisters to add to the aerial armada after Glob had summoned her and told of the battle to come. With the arrival of the magnificent Hermione, dressed in her finest goblin armour at the head of her army, made up in equal measure from plains, wood and mountain goblins, the most warlike within Goblindom, the valley was soon filled to overflowing. As night fell the glow of countless campfires could be seen in all directions. Mica ensured that each group consisted of equal numbers of humins, goblins and elves, charged with guarding a specific path, road or pass, supported by a wyvern and its attendant squadron of birds. On the ridges to either side of the valley, encampments were quickly set up to house the many legions. Heavily armed elves and wood goblins guarded the forest paths to the north and south. Nothing could enter the valley in secret. The whole was protected by the watchful gaze of thousands of vigilant eyes.

But Geraint had a trick up his devious sleeve. He knew of a long forgotten path through Athol’s Pass to the east of the village, which Crellen had told him about. It was to that pass that he now ran in his new and terrible form at the head of his army of timber wolves, griffins and mountain ogres, promising them their fill of fresh goblin and humin flesh when they won.

~~~

     Morweth sensed the beast’s evil intent. Accompanied by Brilith, with one full legion of heavily armoured mountain goblins marching in close formation behind them, they sought out the hidden entrance to the valley. Above the advancing armoured column Yathle and her attendant squadron of eagles flew overhead, acting as the ancient wizard’s eyes. The howls and war cries of Geraint’s army grew louder as they sensed fresh meat. Then a cry more terrible and spine chilling than any heard before or since, drowned out those of the wolves, ogres and griffins. Geraint and his army halted for the night, temporarily camping at the eastern end of Athol’s Pass until dawn, still believing their location was undetected.

Yathle and her eagle squadron circled constantly all night. Then in the misty gloom of early dawn she finally saw the beast at the head of its army. Covered in a shaggy silver coat of thick course fur in his new guise as a wargob, Geraint was twice the size of a humin’s draught horse. His huge grotesque face with its tiny lidless slanted red eyes and pointed ears, with a mouth full of cruel fangs that constantly gnashed together, dripped foul slobber on the ground beneath his feet. He sniffed the morning air through his hideously deformed snub nose; his humin like hands with their razor sharp talons flexed in anticipation. He sat on his heavily muscled back legs for a moment, swishing his bushy wolf tale from side to side, while his deep chest heaved wildly as he prepared himself for what was to come.

~~~

     Neo excused himself and rapidly returned to Agnitha and baby Ylesse’s side guarding both of them with his life, and by hiding them in the hay loft of Miranda’s stable. He instructed her that when the wargob drew near she was to stomp her hooves and neigh loudly, warning of its approach.

Morweth and Brilith joined Glob and the rest of his brothers at a safer vantage point behind the forward goblin legion. The vast army to the rear consisting of mountain and plains goblins, humins, wyverns, birds, wood goblins and elves, quickly re-assembled, drawing a tight heavily armed shield wall of goblin blades, humin flint weapons and elven bows around the village in three ranks. Between the front legion of mountain goblins standing firm at the entrance to the pass and the village behind them, Mica had organised the digging of many pits each filled with sharpened stakes covered by lightweight grass mats. Behind the pits he arranged a killing ground where fire pots full of burning pitch would be catapulted, should the enemy break through.

~~~

     Yathle cried out her warning to alert the entire valley as Geraint and his army slowly began their advance. The battle of Athol’s Pass was about to begin. Horns blew when Geraint charged at the head of his army through the pass, urging them on with his bloodcurdling howls.

The forward legion of mountain goblins drew up in three shield wall ranks, one behind the other, armed with the finest razor sharp, magically forged, blue metal goblin blades at the ready, completely blocking off Geraint’s progress. Hermione led her army from the front, quickly taking two more goblin legions to stand ready on the narrow path leading from the pass. Morweth and Brilith accompanied by Glob, Make, Mous and Byz sat in the branches of a mighty oak that faced towards the eastern entrance of the pass, giving them an excellent view of the battle as it unfolded. High above on each side of the narrow pass, companies of elven archers stood ready with their stocks of poisoned arrows stuck in the ground at their feet, ready for use.

At Yathle’s signal, her sisters and their attendant squadrons of birds flew off on both sides of the pass, immediately attacking and soon dispatching Geraint’s griffins. Then they turned their attention to the lumbering ogres bringing up the rear, soon making short work of them, before finally concentrating on the back ranks of charging timber wolves. As Geraint and the front ranks got within bowshot, they were subjected to a deadly shower of poison tipped arrows raining down upon them from the elven archers above.

By the time Geraint crashed headlong into the first shield wall at full gallop, there were barely twenty survivors of his mighty army left alive. In the heat of battle he made a fatal error as he lashed out at the nearest ranks of goblins. To gain a physical advantage over the tiny goblin soldiers, he reared up on his hind legs and slashed at them with his razor sharp claws over the top of their shields, decapitating some of the front rank. At the precise moment when he stood up, accurately thrown flint headed spears delivered from the hands of the humin warriors, pierced his chest.

The second shield wall closed quickly with the remainder of the first. With his army dead, the elven archers turned their attention to Geraint. Within the space of two heart beats he suffered no less than fifty arrows burying themselves deep alongside the flint spears within his grotesque form. Morweth and Brilith conjured a freezing spell of terrible power, merging Geraint’s feet into the rocky ground amid the bodies of the dead from both armies. Unable to move, he bit and slashed at any goblin foolish enough to close with him, while howling with fury. This was the cue for Yathle and her sisters to deliver their fiery assault. Each wyvern formed up one behind the other, before diving down to deliver their fireballs, setting Geraint’s thick shaggy fur alight. This action was the signal for the squadrons of eagles, hawks, owls, rooks and ravens to dive in their thousands, pecking bloody clumps of burnt hair and flesh from Geraint’s terrible head and powerful shoulders. At a blast of her battle horn Hermione summoned the front ranks of her goblin legions to rapidly retreat behind the remaining third shield wall. She beckoned forward the humin fire pot launchers and directed their fiery assault on the still breathing monster. By now Geraint realised the battle was lost. He attempted to revert back to his normal self to enable his escape by disappearing from view. But it wasn’t to be. Crellen had repeatedly warned him that once transformed into a wargob, there was no going back. As more and more fire pots full of burning pitch fell on him, elven arrows and humin spears rained down. Now mortally wounded, Geraint found just enough strength left to emit his terrible wargob howl one last time before he died, totally consumed by the flames.

~~~

     “Well my dears,” Hermione began, several hours later as she sat at the head table as the guest of honour outside Agnitha and Mica’s home holding baby Ylesse in her arms, “you truly have a beautiful daughter.” Between the roundhouses, trestle tables had been hastily erected with benches for all to sit, eat and drink their fill. The mead flowed freely. Songs of the battle of Athol’s Pass, quickly composed, were being sung loudly in drunken voices by all. Despite the cold of the night, the adrenalin of battle still flowed through their veins, warming them.

Mica and the goblin brothers made their way among the victorious army thanking each of them for saving the day. Determinedly urged on by his daughter Agnitha poking him sharply in the ribs, Yestin made a point of seeking out Morweth and Brilith to apologise for being so wrong about them and to shake their hands. Neo sat beside Hermione. Ylesse smiled and gurgled as she stretched out her tiny arms towards him. Seeing the bond between her goblin son and the humin baby, Hermione handed her over. He gently held her in his arms as she once again stuck a finger in one of his nostrils, making his eyes water, much to the amusement of everyone. Even old Neo managed to crack one of his rare toothy smiles, while gazing through tear filled cross eyes with love flowing from his heart for the tiny humin child. Thanks to innocent Ylesse he finally understood the deep instant friendship Glob felt for Mica since the day when he had rescued him from the she-wolf all those long summers ago.

~~~

More later

😉