Another teaser

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The following short extract from one of the thirty tales of the anthology, describes the real enemy of every living thing in Goblindom…

~~~

Crellen the black wizard stood up, cleared his throat and addressed the assembly. “Aeons ago in the time before, after we had banished the humans, we placed a wall of magic around our part of the world to protect ourselves from everything beyond our borders. If these humans find a way through, we must destroy them where they stand by any and all means at our disposal. Magic still rules here, not metal! We cannot allow these accursed humans to invade. While we fight amongst ourselves, our squabbles are as nothing compared to the evil these creatures present to all living things in Goblindom. How many of them exist is anyone’s guess? There may be thousands of them. I have heard of their ways from other wizards further to the south, as you have too I think Morweth.”

Morweth and Brilith both nodded their heads in agreement. Crellen continued, “whenever humans encounter anyone passing for witch or a wizard in their land, they burn or drown them. In the part of the world humans dwell in, there is no room for magic of any kind, no matter that their ills are still cured by magic’s practioners in the form of healers. They plunder, slash and burn forests, laying waste to every living thing. They kill for food, or for pleasure. They make war on their own kind for land. They share nothing with all the other kinds who live where they dwell. They either kill or enslave all they conquer. Humans are truly evil. They must be driven from here. Then once we have rid ourselves of them, we must reinforce our wall of magic to hide our land forever. In time we may even need to travel to their homeland to annihilate them all.”

~~~

Crellen’s description of our species pretty well sums us up, wouldn’t you say?

More later,

😉

Forget about movies…

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…they rarely if ever stimulate you in the same way a book can, and does. If you want to conjure up a mental picture of a fictional character or landscape, always rely on the words on the pages of a book, and your unique mental interpretation of them. In other words, use your imagination!

To illustrate my point, the following is a description of just one of the many characters I employ in Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales, which I’m currently re-writing. If it doesn’t give you a clear vision of him in your mind’s eye, then I feel extremely sorry for you…

~~~

     Grimsdyke Mugwurzle, the purveyor of seeds, had begun his annual trading trip south to the humin settlements dotted throughout the southern woods from his home at the northernmost edge of Goblindom, much earlier than normal this year. All winter long, Mug had carefully tended his vast stocks of seeds in preparation for the coming spring. No matter what kind you may seek, he was sure to have a selection to please you for a modest cost.

Of all the goblins you were ever likely to meet within the confines of Goblindom’s magic barrier, he was the dourest and a firm believer in retribution. Like all northerners he spoke with a strong accent. His black eyes were typical of the goblins who settled the northern parts. Set deep in their sockets, they shone darkly like pure polished Jet. His nose which half hid beneath his thick highly animated protruding bushy eyebrows had an unfortunate growth on its pointed end. Anyone meeting Mug for the first time, could hardly fail to notice the prominent orange coloured wart sprouting five black hairs, which waved gaily in the breeze like tall marsh reed stalks. From time to time, folk made jokes about it behind his back. If he heard them he’d hit the offending joker on the head with his club. He failed to appreciate any kind of remark about his unfortunate nasal addition.

~~~

If a description is perfect, what else do you need? Nothing! Not every character in every story needs such a detailed description, except when writing something like a fantasy anthology about Goblins in Goblindom…

🙂

We all have a dream…

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Minas Tirith, the fortified capital of Gondor

~~~

As a lifetime Tolkien devotee, each year at this time I go on a pilgrimage to Middle-Earth. Over the last few weeks I have once more immersed myself in the pages of The Hobbit and all three books contained within The Lord of the Rings trilogy. For those of you visiting Earth for the first time, from the planet Zog, they are as follows – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Twin Towers and The Return of the King.

It is no coincidence that I’ve been re-reading the four books at the same time as I am involved in re-working my own humble fantasy tome, for the third and final time. I refer of course to my anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales

Tolkien always portrayed goblins as positively evil. In this instance I choose not to. My five goblin heroes are Globular Van der Graff (Glob), Makepiece Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) and Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous). I also created a sixth character, who lives with them in their oak tree home, sharing in their adventures. He is none other than a one eyed lisping raven with a twisted beak – who answers to the name Bejuss.

There are a myriad of other characters contained within the anthology from Humins, the antecedants of mankind. Wyverns, a Black Dragon, Elves, Griffins, White and Black Witches and Wizards. Trolls, Wargobs, even Men, to name but a few of those within the anthology. I also created the mythical land known as Goblindom, where they all reside, hidden from the rest of the world (See the map below).

Was I inspired to write the goblin anthology of thirty linked tales by the works of Tolkien? To say no would be a lie on my part. Is my anthology in any way like the tales of Middle-Earth? That is not for me to say. Should the anthology be portrayed on the silver screen? That has always been my dream.

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Will it ever come to pass? In all likelihood, probably not. But then again, who can honestly say. Am I a latter day Tolkien? I don’t think so. Besides, to presume so is a step too far. No I’m just another storyteller. Nothing more. Nothing less…

😉

Want a taste of what I’m re-working at the moment?

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Glob holding his emerald tipped magic staff with Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak perched on his shoulder. Make with his bestest Briar pipe. Cross-eyed Neo with his war club. Accident prone Mous. The youngest goblin brother – Byz, always getting into trouble…

~~~

Here is one of the thirty tales that has been reworked so far, contained within the fantasy anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tale.

~~~

I Juth Want One Night’th Thleep!

     In which Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, seeks revenge.

~~~

     As the sun slowly climbed in the sky all was quite in the world, except for the sound of loud snoring echoing among the ancient trees, terrifying the woodland creatures. Glob yawned, broke wind, stretched, burped, scratched his backside and turned over. A few more minutes in his warm bed was all he asked of life at this particular moment in time.

Make curled his arms tenderly around his pillow and began murmuring sweet nothings to it with a silly smile on his face. Mous tossed and turned muttering unintelligible bursts of nonsense words as he fought an imaginary monster. Byz lay on his back kicking his feet in the air dreaming he was a goblin youngling once again, gurgling happily, and furiously sucking his thumb. Between his loud snoring bouts, Neo mercifully fell silent with a look of total bliss on his old leathery face. In these far too brief moments of silence he dreamt of waking up each morning nestled beside his beloved Miranda. Then as fast as his dream faded, his snoring quickly resumed.  Over the countless years they had all shared their comfortable oak tree home with him, each and every one of his brothers had become immune to the effects of Neo’s nightly audible assault; but not simpleminded Byz’s pet raven, Bejuss.

~~~

     The old bird suffered terribly each night from Neo’s ear-splitting assault on every fibre of his being. Deprived of precious sleep yet again, his feet locked themselves even more than usual to the perch, as his cage was violently vibrated with each fresh snore, threatening to shake him loose at any moment.

Now wide awake, bleary eyed and decidedly unhappy with the situation, he covered his ears with the tips of his flight feathers. Poor Bejuss did his level best to rest a few moments more before the sun’s rays finally entered the window, bathing the interior of the goblin household in its golden light. Ever since the day when he first willingly joined the band of goblin brothers, he had come to dread bed time. Within an hour after sunset he knew that Neo would be the first of the brothers to go to sleep. Something had to be done about the goblin’s peace destroying snoring – but what?

~~~

     After breakfast Glob sat beside the window enjoying his favourite view of the Southern Woods, allowing his meal to digest properly. Make carefully packed a plug of his honeysuckle flavoured tobacco in his bestest briar pipe, lit it and enjoyed the pleasant taste of the sweet herb, while idly blowing smoke rings out through the window past Glob’s head.

As usual, Neo left the domestic duties to his brothers, considering tasks like cleaning and washing up beneath him. He quickly left on his morning visit to be with Miranda in her stable. Along the way, he picked a bunch of the finest, juiciest blades of grass for her breakfast.

Back in the goblin brother’s home, it was Mous’s turn to do the washing up. Being the accident prone goblin that he is, almost as soon as the pot of water had boiled on the fire, he managed to tip the lot all over himself as he struggled with its weight. He let out a yell at the top of his voice and ran outside onto the large bough beyond their front door, waiving his hands in the air, frantically trying to cool his injured hands. “It hurtz, it hurtz; takez itz away, it hurtz!” he screamed loudly, as inflamed patches on the skin of his bony goblin hands deepened their colour while the pain intensified. Glob ran to him with a jar of honey and gently applied a generous amount to his severely scalded hands.

“Why don’t yer blows on them thens?” Make suggested between puffs on his pipe, thinking he was being especially helpful to his best friend.

“I’z hatez yer Make!” Mous sobbed, with tears welling up in his eyes, despite the soothing feeling of the honey slowly doing its work as it eased the pain.

“I’s wos only trying ter helps yer brother, sorry’s I’s sure!” Make replied indignantly, puffing furiously on his pipe, sending more smoke signals into the air.

As usual, Byz was totally oblivious to all that was going on. After he had replaced the stale oak leaves in his armpits with freshly picked ones, he found a spider in his bed and began playing with it, completely forgetting to feed Bejuss. “Rarrk, me’th hungry – me needth food!” the old bird lisped angrily from within the witch cage.

Glob kicked Byz in the shins causing him to yelp. “Looking arter Bejuss is yer sponsibility, so yer’d better feeds him, sharpish like – or else me lad!” Glob yelled, above the noise all around him. Byz began crying loudly as he ran outside.

In between sobs he yelled back at Glob. “Yer is a bully Glob, I’s hates yer!”

Feeling totally fed up and decidedly angry, Bejuss opened the door to his cage and flew off to the kitchen. “Can’t get any thleep, n now me can’t get me breakfath neither!” he lisped, while casting his one eye around the kitchen shelves looking for something juicy to eat. Finding nothing, he flew back into the living room in disgust and perched on the back of Glob’s chair beside the window. Byz sulkily returned from outside after a few minutes with some juicy bugs for Bejuss’ breakfast. The old bird made him yelp again when he angrily snatched his breakfast from him with his sharp twisted beak, swallowing them so quickly that he gave himself hiccups. Glob hung his head low and sighed heavily. As if things weren’t bad enough already what with Mous scalding himself, now he had an angry hiccupping raven perched behind him to contend with. The day was not exactly getting off to a good start.

Bejuss hiccupped loudly in his ear before saying, “it’th bad enuff that a bird can’t get any, hic, thleep around here coth of Neo’th thnoring; but forgettin me breakfath, hic, ith the latht thtraw!”

Then a ray of hope shone on the day’s gloomy beginnings when Mica arrived. “Good morning my friends,” Mica shouted to make himself heard over the sobs, yells, hiccups and moans coming from the leafy branches of the ancient oak above his head. Glob leaned out of the window and saw his humin friend below with a heavily pregnant Agnitha sitting on Miranda’s broad back, accompanied by Neo, who was seated between the old mare’s large soft ears, constantly whispering sweet words to her. “We were wondering if you fancied joining us for a picnic beside the stream, and maybe a bit of fishing.” Mica enquired, as Miranda suddenly lowered her head to crop the grass, almost unseating Neo, making him cling on tightly to one of her ears. Quickly forgetting their bickering, the remaining goblin brothers hastily put together a supply of their favourite foods, plates and mugs as well as an acorn barrel full of Neo’s freshly brewed special mead, all stowed carefully by Mica in a basket slung from Miranda’s back. Despite the pleasant prospect of a picnic, Bejuss could not forget the troubles of the night as he glared angrily at Neo. As for Glob, he was relieved for the welcome distraction. He led his brothers down to the ground and soon they were on their way along the path for a nice day out with their humin friends.

Agnitha’s mothering instincts took over as she tenderly cradled tiny Mous in her arms, kissing his pointed goblin ears and wiping away his tears with her soft blond hair, making him totally forget all about his scalded hands. Byz hobbled along tethered to Make, rubbing the painful bruise on his shin. Bejuss perched on Glob’s shoulder in deathly silence, except for his constant hiccups, while the old goblin walked and talked with Mica.

By mid-morning they had finally arrived in a lush meadow beside the stream. Mica helped Agnitha down, and between them they spread a large flax sheet on the grass. Glob and Make carried the picnic baskets between them and helped Agnitha set out the wooden bowls, mugs, and the pots and parcels of carefully wrapped foods. By now, Mous was completely head over heels in love with his surrogate humin mother, the fair Agnitha. He fussed around her, fetching and carrying for her despite his tiny size, dragging a humin sized mug over to her, so she didn’t have to stretch too far for anything in her delicate condition. Whatever she desired from the delicious repast, Mous delivered. Each time, no matter how large or small the request from her, she rewarded him with a gentle kiss on the top of his leathery head, making him blush deeply, much to everyone’s amusement. Mica nudged Glob, pointing at the spectacle of the tiny love struck goblin and grinned. Perhaps the day would turn out far better than Glob could have hoped for after all. Neo sat on Miranda’s neck combing her main, making it shine. Make sat back to back with Glob, while he packed his pipe once more, lit it and closed his eyes, puffing contentedly. Byz, still tethered to him, played with a butterfly.

~~~

     All seemed well with the world. But high above the happy scene, Bejuss was already plotting and planning. “Me can’t take another night of Neo’th noith,” the old bird muttered to himself. And then a solution occurred to him. Of course, why hadn’t he thought of it before? Plug the hole; that way there would be no more noise! The germ of a plan slowly formed in his tiny bird brain. He would need an assortment of items necessary to complete the task, so he flew off in search of the things on his list, unnoticed by his friends below.

By mid-afternoon they were all mostly asleep. Mica and Agnitha were curled up in each other’s arms with Mous snuggling blissfully between them. Byz and Make lay back to back on their sides on a bed of soft grass, bathed in the warmth of the sun. Glob sat with his back to the trunk of a tree beside the stream, holding his willow wand fishing pole and its spider silk line, baited with a caddis fly, watching it drift on the surface of the stream. His hat was pulled low over his eyes while he drifted contentedly between awake and asleep. Miranda had laid down in the shade of a willow with Neo fast asleep beside her soft muzzle. Inevitably the time came when he lay on his back with his mouth open.

Bejuss returned from his trip and landed on one of the willow’s branches. At long last his hiccups had gone. On the way back he had found a fat juicy worm, a snail and a slug for his own picnic lunch, which he now deposited in a knot hole on the branch. He had hidden his secret weapon elsewhere for the moment. As the afternoon drew on, Bejuss slowly devoured the worm, before he pecked the snail carefully out of its shell with his twisted beak and swallowed it whole. Next he ate the slug. The peaceful scene was finally broken as Neo began to snore loudly. “Right – it’th time!” the old raven lisped determinedly to himself. He picked up the empty snail shell and flew down to where Neo lay. Carefully positioning himself above the snoring goblin from a lower branch of the willow, he dropped it neatly into Neo’s mouth. Instantly the old goblin began choking and coughing. Everyone was immediately aroused by the sound of the violent coughing fit. Mica picked Neo up by the scruff of his neck and slapped his back hard. With one or two more slaps, he coughed up the snail shell. Bejuss’ one eye focused on the scene below him with growing satisfaction. Phase one of his plan was successful. Phase two would have to wait until nightfall.  “That’ll teach him,” he chuckled and flew off home unnoticed.

~~~

     On their return, the goblin brothers entered their home to find the old raven sitting on his perch in the witch cage. He had his back to them lisping angrily to himself, clearly in no mood for friendly conversation. Simpleminded Byz was about to say something when Glob stopped him, shook his head and gestured to his brothers to leave Bejuss alone. By now Make and Mous had made up and were best friends once again. Thanks to Glob, they all had a nice fish for their supper. Glob took it upon himself to feed Bejuss his supper of worms, taking great care not to induce hiccups in the old bird once again. Very soon night took over, and the five goblins turned in.

Bejuss didn’t have to wait long to complete his revenge. Within a few minutes, Neo began snoring, quietly at first. But inevitably, each fresh snore grew louder than its predecessor. The old raven carefully opened the door to his cage. Next, he silently flew to where he had hidden a balled up spider web he had collected earlier that day. With a couple of deft hops along the rafters, he positioned himself above Neo’s bed. Slowly he lowered the ball of spider web on a single thread of silk, until it was just above the goblin’s mouth. The next two snores threatened to dislodge the old raven as the vibrations built up, but he hung on with grim determination. In an ‘it’s now or never’ moment, he lowered the ball of web till it tickled Neo’s tonsils, before rapidly retrieving it. Neo woke, saw nothing, and quickly returned to sleep. As soon as the snoring resumed, Bejuss did it again, with the same result. The old bird kept it up, until eventually Neo turned on his side and peace reigned in the household.

At long last Bejuss returned to his cage after hiding the balled up spider web, with a look of deep satisfaction on his face. From now on whenever Neo snored, Bejuss merely had to repeat the process. Just one good night’s sleep was all he had ever asked for, and now he had the instrument to ensure nocturnal raven bliss forever more, safely stowed away in the rafter above Neo’s bed.

~~~

😉

Got to divert myself…

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…while waiting for sales of my latest novella – Autumn 1066 to pick up, if they ever do. I’ve decided to go ahead with the third edition of Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales. A task I’ve been putting off for ages…

As you can see I already have the new cover, family portrait and revised map, all created by a good friend of mine here in Beccles, Duncan Niall Boswell, featuring Glob and his brothers Make, Mous, Neo and Byz, not forgetting Glob’s old friend Bejuss, the one eyed lisping Raven with a twisted beak. In fact I’ve had them filed away for months on this laptop with the idea of one day creating a top quality third edition.

I’m in no hurry with the task ahead. Where before I would work to a deadline, often sacrificing quality merely to get another ebook out for the hungry market, as I did with the first two versions. Not this time round…

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     From left to right – Glob with Bejuss on his shoulder – lower left, Make –  left, Neo – centre, Mous –  right, and Byz – lower right.

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Reworking the anthology will take most of the rest of this year, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, tale by tale.

More later

😉

In This Business, It Always Pays To Have Highly Talented Friends

As many of you will know, I had to temporarily put aside working on the new version of my one and only fantasy anthology ‘Goblin Tales’, until the artwork I had commissioned was completed.

Well, it was finally sent to me on Sunday afternoon via email by its artist Duncan Nial Boswell. Not only did he produce the family portrait of the five goblin brothers – Glob, Neo, Byz, Make, Mous and Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven that I asked him for, but he also threw in a revitalised map of Goblindom and a whole new cover. Take a look for yourselves.

I’m sure you will agree with me when I say that his work is absolutely faultless. It was definitely worth waiting for…

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Top Left – Make, Top Centre – Neo, Top Right – Mous, Lower Right – Byz, Lower Left – Glob with Bejuss on his shoulder.

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~~~

With the artwork safely in my possession, I’ll get back to completing ‘Goblin Tales’ for publication after I’ve published the new version of my archaeological adventure ‘The Seventh Age’.

PS – Duncan will probably kill me for saying this, but if you are impressed by his work and would like to ask him to do the same for you at some time in the future, contact me by message on Facebook at Jack Eason and I’ll pass your request along to him. After all, he can only say no.

😉

An Early Timeless Tale

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The mountain gremlin Lungwort

~~~

Evils shadow grows longer

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) seek out the truth about a stranger, assisted by Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven.

~~~

As the long freezing days of winter gave way to the first signs of spring, an enigmatic stranger arrived in the humin village. He was an itinerant by the name of Eodor who made his living napping the finest flint tools, spearheads and knives in exchange for food and lodging. At first the villagers were wary of him. But he soon charmed them all, turning the heads of the women with his handsome appearance and pleasant nature, especially Mica’s intended, Agnitha, the daughter of the village shaman Yestin. But not all females fell under his spell. Eodor had been given the hay loft in Miranda’s stable for his temporary abode. Miranda, like all animals living in Goblindom, has the ability to judge any being by its shadow, unlike humins and goblins that see nothing out of the ordinary. Only one other kind living in Goblindom shares this ability – the members of the white sisterhood like Brilith. Sensing foreboding, Miranda communicated the fact to her beloved goblin friend Neo when he next came to comb her luxuriant mane.

That night after the goblin brothers had eaten their fill, Neo sat at his customary position on his stool beside the fire in their living room, unusually quiet in deep thought. Not once did he grumble about anything his brothers said or did. Sensing something was clearly troubling him, Glob sat beside him. “Wot’s wrongs brother?” he asked as he put another handful of sticks on the fire.

Neo stared at the dancing flames through his crossed eyes for a few moments before answering. “Evil’s shadow grows longer in these parts. Miranda says she seed Eodor’s true shadows n she’s frighted by it. She believes he means harms ter someones in the humin village I’s afraids ter say Glob.” Neo slumped back against the fireplace with his head in his hands. For the first time in his long life he was very afraid. Glob had never seen him so shaken and concerned for anyone other than his beloved Miranda before.

“Wot shadows dids she seed then?” Glob quietly enquired, not wishing to alarm Make, Mous and Byz by speaking out aloud. Neo leaned closer, so close that his long pointed nose almost bent double against Glob’s leathery ears. “She seed the shadows on a terribles mountain gremlin, where a humin’s one should have beens,” Neo whispered as quietly as he could, shaking his head at the prospect.

Glob visibly shivered. Mountain gremlins terrified all non humins. They were feared by all other living creatures and where usually employed by black wizards or witches to carry out vicious assassinations. “Truly, tis evils Miranda saw Neo. At first light, goes ter her n rides east. We’s needs Brilith here. Her powerful white magic is sorely needed once more,” Glob whispered, while throwing his arm around Neo’s shoulders to reassure him.

The following morning just as the sun rose in the east, no one noticed that Miranda had gone from her stable, especially Eodor who was still sleeping in the arms of a young maiden, physically exhausted from having satiated his carnal needs after charming his way into her bed the evening before.

After Neo left, Glob called together the remainder of his brothers. He charged Make and Mous to find, and shadow Eodor’s every movement. He sent Byz to find Mica and stay with him, asking Bejuss to accompany him to keep his mind on the important task, knowing full well how easily distracted simple minded Byz can be at times. Mica had risen early and was busy in the southern meadow picking the prettiest dew covered wild flowers to take to Agnitha when the pair arrived. He had decided that today he would ask her father for her hand. Both Byz and Bejuss did their level best to totally divert their humin friend Mica in friendly conversation, until the time for action drew near.

By noon Miranda was back in her stable. Neo left Brilith on the southern edge of the humin village and quickly sought out Glob, who was watching all that went on in the humin village from the confines of the old cave above the village, where a few months earlier the black witch Cazophen had briefly made it her own.

Neo eventually arrived. Wheezing breathlessly after the hard climb up the steep wooded north-east side of the valley, and still unable to speak, he pointed back to where a comely blond haired maiden carrying a basket of flowers, slowly walked towards the centre of the village. Brilith positively revelled in the looks of physical desire her attractive form generated among the humin men while she deliberately sought out Eodor. “Flowers, pretty flowers,” she cried, continuing to seduce the humin men by way she swung her shapely hips as she walked among them. “Who will buy my pretty flowers?”

“What will it cost me for a posy my lovely?”

Brilith smiled sweetly at the handsome stranger, despite the evil shadow he cast. “You may have a posy for a gentle kiss handsome sir,” she giggled, as she fluttered her eyelashes at him while brushing her hair to one side, exposing her perfect facial features, completely entrancing him. Eodor eagerly seized her slim waste and roughly drew her towards him. As his lips met hers, Brilith delved deep into his malevolent mind. Despite the loathing she felt for this abomination, she never once alerted it to her true purpose as she sought the answers she needed. After her encounter with Eodor she disappeared from view behind one of the village roundhouses and soon joined Glob and Neo in the cave above the village. “You did right to fetch me here my dears,” Brilith announced gravely as she once more took on her natural plump white witch form. “Eodor is indeed a mountain gremlin and he is here to take revenge on the humin shaman Yestin by murdering his daughter Agnitha.”

“But why does it wants ter?” Neo enquired, fighting fit once more and ready for anything.

“It has been sent by Geraint, brother of the dead black witch Cazophen. Twas Yestin who first called her witch so long ago my dear Neo,” Brilith replied, frowning deeply as her mind began to churn and boil searching for an answer to their problem.

“Wots ter do, oh wots ter do?” Glob said, frantically pacing back and forth in the cave mouth. In his old bones he felt that this time maybe they were all out of their depth.

Brilith thought for a few more moments before hitting upon a strategy. “We need to distract it my dear friends. Glob, go and tell Mica that he has a rival for the hand of Agnitha. See to it that he challenges Eodor to a fight in the southern meadow. Neo, gather up your brothers and join Glob and Byz at the meadow. But stay hidden from view until you hear me cry the gremlin’s true name. For when I do, it will begin to change back to its real appearance. It is at its weakest as it transforms. That is when the five of you along with young Mica must strike, overcome and kill it. Though beware my dears; a mountain gremlin is a tricky foe. It may cause you grievous wounds. Go quickly now!” she concluded, giving both goblins a gentle shove towards the cave mouth.

Mica needed no urging as anger took over when Glob lied to him. He soon found Eodor talking to Agnitha outside the door to her home. “Leave my Agnitha’s house you cur!” Mica shouted, seething with anger. Eodor turned, and for a brief moment took in every detail of the tall, powerfully built, young warrior closing with him. Agnitha screamed and ran inside the house. “Fight me you dog, fight me! Agnitha is promised to me. None but I have the right to her hand,” Mica yelled.

Eodor stood square on to Mica. In his humin form he was Mica’s equal in strength and size. “Very well pup, choose the place of your death – here and now if you like.” He deliberately spat the words out to goad the young humin warrior into making a foolish move. He was going to enjoy this brief distraction before he fulfilled his contract for Geraint.

“Meet me at the south meadow as dusk falls!” Mica spluttered angrily, fighting back his immediate desire to strike at his rival right here and now in the village.

“So be it young fool,” Eodor’s handsome face twisted into a cruel mask. He added one last mocking insult as Mica departed. “Don’t forget to pray to your gods boy. For soon you will join them!”

The sun was almost touching the far western hills when Eodor strode towards where Mica stood at the centre of the southern meadow. Bejuss saw him coming and let out a cry of sheer terror. “Rarrk – the evil come’th – beware!” Then he flew high into the branches of an oak tree at the edge of the meadow and hid from view.

Glob, Make, Mous and Neo lay in wait in the shadows behind a tree stump with their razor sharp goblin blades, ready to come to their humin friend’s aid. True to form, Byz had wandered off. He sat at the southernmost edge of the meadow, happily playing with a butterfly.

Mica stood ready with his flint war axe in his right hand and his best spear dug into the ground beside him, as Eodor approached. His left hand caressed the handle of his flint knife stuck in his belt. Brilith readied herself, wand in hand, behind a large boulder close to where Mica stood. Eodor and Mica began to slowly circle each other, both seeking a weak point in their opponent’s defence. Mica swung his axe with his right hand while stabbing his spear at Eodor with his left. Eodor’s lightning fast agility meant he was easily able to dodge every blow Mica delivered. Both of them soon tired of these preliminary skirmishes and closed with one another, dropping all weapons except for their knives. At first they were evenly matched, but gradually Eodor’s unnatural strength gave him the upper hand. Despite his youth and strength, Mica was beginning to tire. Eodor finally grew weary of the game and sliced into the young humin’s thigh with his knife. Mica fell on his back, clutching the wound in great pain. Blood flowed freely between his fingers.

Eodor straddled his foe. At the point where he was ready to end Mica’s life by plunging his cruel knife into the young humin’s heart, Brilith strode forth and called out his true name, ending the fight. “Behold foul beast, thy name is Lungwort. I command ye to reveal thy true self!” Unable to disguise itself any longer the mountain gremlin stood up and began slowly transforming; instantly forgetting the young humin it had been so intent on killing moments before. Lungwort remained motionless as he slowly and painfully transformed, reverting back to his natural appearance. He stood half the height of a humin, yet twice the height of a goblin, with folded bat wings protruding from his back. His foul head was adorned with yellow bat ears and a bat muzzle of the same colouring. His cruel mouth was filled with needle sharp teeth capable of ripping flesh with ease. A long thin blue tongue hung limply out of one side of his cruel mouth. His heavily muscled torso, legs and arms were grey in colour. Both of his hands were armed with viciously sharp slashing claws. His four toed feet supported his powerful legs. Each foot had three toes facing forward, one back, each armed with a vicious talon.

“Now my friends, strike now while he is at his weakest,” Brilith cried as she stood with powerful spells at the ready. Glob, Neo, Make and Mous dashed from their hiding place and attacked the mountain gremlin with such fury, stabbing, ripping, gouging, biting – each of them seeking that mortal wound.

Lungwort was almost fully transformed, but he was sorely wounded. He lashed his head and arms from side to side trying to catch or bite one or other of the goblin brothers as they clung to him, still stabbing him furiously. Make had made Lungwort’s still not fully formed wings useless. His goblin blade shredded them, rendering the mountain gremlin incapable of flight. Neo had finally managed to hamstring one of the brute’s ankles, causing all to fall in a tangled heap on the ground. Lungwort seized Mous in one powerful hand, squeezing the tiny unfortunate goblin, breaking some bones. He was about to bite off his head, when suddenly he relaxed his grip as his cruel black eyes glazed over. His foul existence ended when simple minded Byz joined the fight. He had finally remembered why he was in the meadow. With one swift movement he had succeeded in finding the gremlin’s heart with his own razor sharp goblin blade.

The aftermath of the battle was a truly horrible sight to behold. Mica lay in agony, bruised and battered, still clutching the bloody wound on his thigh. Glob, Make, Mous and Neo were utterly exhausted and equally bruised and wounded. As for Byz, he sat down distracted once again, this time by a pretty wild flower. Bejuss, his courage returned, stood on the gremlin’s head pecking out its dead eyes with his twisted beak. It would take many months before the goblin brothers would ever speak about the day they all truly fought for their lives with their deadliest foe – Lungwort the mountain gremlin.

What of Mica and Agnitha I hear you cry? They were joined according to the humin custom. Their hands were bound with garlands of flowers on mid summer’s day beneath the ancient oak where Glob, Make, Mous, Byz, Neo and Bejuss lived. By the following summer the goblin brothers would have another young humin to look out for.

Geraint sat in his lair scowling at the happy scene reflected in his witch bowl. Time was on his side. He would send no more agents to do his bidding. One day he would personally take revenge on Yestin and his accursed family for the murder of his beloved sister Cazophen. And as for those accursed goblins, their time would come soon enough.

~~~

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