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

😉

When Bejuss first appears in Goblin Tales

raven_1

Bejuss’ great grand-nephew Braak

As I’m rewriting my fantasy anthology Goblin Tales, I thought I’d let you read about when I introduced my favourite character of them all – a one eyed lisping raven with a twisted beak. I couldn’t get a picture of him as he’s extremely shy. So the one of Braak will have to suffice.

~~~

A Spell is Cast

     In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), assisted by worthy allies, do battle to save their humin friend Mica and his entire village from the effects of powerful black magic.

~~~

     In the midst of a violent stormy night a mighty lightning bolt hit the ancient oak tree where Glob and his brothers lived, immediately followed by an ear-splitting clap of thunder, throwing them all into a state of sheer panic. They were forced to flee in the torrential rain and head for the relative safety of Miranda’s stable.

~~~

     “Oh here me dark spirits; I call on thee in this my time of revenge, to strike down mine enemies. Spirits deliver upon them all evil devices. I command thee to make their worthless lives a misery,” her voice shrilled, even though she could not be heard beyond the precincts of the cave she occupied, thanks to the continuous lightning strikes and claps of thunder, created by her powerful magic. The flashes of the lightning bolts illuminated her cruel face, twisted as it was into a grimace of pure hatred, disfigured by a festering sore on her forehead. She hobbled between her workbench and cauldron, despite the great pain of her grossly bent back and deformed legs, adding ingredients as she increased the power of her spell. No living thing had noticed she had taken up residence in the shallow cave in the thickly wooded slopes east of the village, accompanied by her familiar, two days earlier.

The effects of her spell immediately induced a host of crippling maladies in the humin village. Boils, festering sores, vomiting, diarrhoea and chronic physical pain violently struck its residents low. From inside Miranda’s stable, the now thoroughly soaked goblin brothers could hear the groans and cries coming from the village in the brief lull between lightning bolt and clap of thunder, not yet realising that evil that had struck down their humin friends.

~~~

     The next morning, the magically induced storm finally abated and Byz had trapped himself a new pet in the witch cage. Grouzle had choked to death a couple of days earlier, after trying to swallow Byz’ gold ring. “Look – gots me a new pretty birdy!” he said, proudly showing his latest pet to his brothers. His simpleton’s grin broke out, showing his sheer delight from where he sat tethered to one of Miranda’s back legs. Glob and his brothers stared at the new pet for long time with a mixture of deep suspicion, fear, and curiosity. A bedraggled one-eyed raven with a deformed beak peered suspiciously back at them through the bars of the witch cage.

“Wot’s yer name thens bird?” Neo cautiously enquired.

“Arrk – me miththtreth callth me Bejuthth,” the raven lisped, prevented from telling a lie by the strong magic of the cage.

“Whoth – sorrys, I does begs pardons bird, I’s means whose yer mistress thens?” Glob enquired, quickly correcting himself, not wishing to upset the old raven by copying its speech impediment. Careful to interpret the answers correctly, he determined its name was in fact Bejuss and its mistress’ name was Cazophen. Through careful questioning, the old bird revealed she had returned to the valley a few days ago, after spending ten long summers learning the black arts from the black wizard Crellen, who found her near death and nursed her back to health. Bejuss went on to explain how Mica’s parents and their fellow villagers, had accused her of being a witch all those years ago, after Yestin had noticed something suspicious on her shoulder. In fact she was not a witch of any kind, merely an innocent young girl with a peculiar birthmark. Young Cazophen was a natural healer. Perhaps professional jealousy was the reason for Yestin’s accusation, no one really knew. But all those summers ago, strange and frightening things occurred within the confines of the village. Many people were struck down with various maladies. According to Yestin, black magic was at work. He proclaimed Cazophen was its practitioner. At his command they branded her witch with a burning piece of wood, leaving a hideous scar on her forehead that never healed, yet more proof to all the nervous and highly superstitious villagers that their shaman’s belief about her was true after all. A few days after the ritual branding, the men of the humin village dragged her screaming and pleading for mercy from the cage she had been put in. They threw her off a cliff at the far end of the valley, believing they had killed her. This was the reason for her bent back and hobbling gate. But now she had returned schooled in the black arts, with revenge filling her angry tortured soul.

Bejuss was completely terrified by her and the vicious storm she had conjured to hide herself. Once her spell was cast he seized upon the opportunity to quickly take flight while she was distracted. Seeking shelter and safety, the old raven flew into Miranda’s stable during the violence of the night.

~~~

     Glob signalled to his brothers to follow him outside into the sunshine. “Brothers, we needs ter finds us some help n quicks sharp like,” the old goblin announced as a look of deep concern for their friend Mica and the villagers, mixed with fear of what the witch might do next, rapidly spread across his face. “Neo, takes Miranda n head east ter finds our friend Brilith n brings her back ere afore nightfall. Now orf wiv yer sharpish like,” Glob commanded. Neo quickly explained to his dear friend Miranda what was needed and soon the pair galloped east through the woods. “Right Mous, takes Make n go n check on yung Mica n sees how he is – orf with yer now, no times ter waste!” Glob began. “I’ll goes orf ter the south on the valley n summon Yathle. We needs her help agin. Dark deeds require powerful weapons ter counter em.” Glob took off at a steady loping pace carrying his magical staff with its emerald tip to summon the goblin friendly wyvern. By nightfall Neo and Miranda had returned with the white witch Brilith, who along with the rest, sat in a tight circle hidden from view beneath Yathle’s great spiked wings in a council of war.

~~~

     The black slit pupils of Yathle’s mesmerizing golden eyes expanded as the evening light faded. She looked at each and every one of the small band in turn. Her great armoured head, similar in shape to her distant cousins, the dragons, twisted and inclined slightly as she carefully studied her companions. Her snakelike tail with its vicious barbs swept slowly from side to side tearing up the grass, briar patches and nettles behind her. The metallic coloured scales on her chest barely flexed as she breathed. Her thick and powerful legs with their two toed feet, each armed with razor sharp claws, bent at the knee allowing her to sit on the ground. She had willingly come before when Glob had summoned her to do battle with the griffin. Now she was ready once again to serve her goblin friends in their hour of need in any way she could.

“Cazophen muzt av a weaknezz,” Mous offered.

From his perch within the witch cage, Bejuss lisped, “thhe duth; thhe love’th the thound on pipeth.”

“What iz pipez?” Mous wondered out loud, shaking his head as he desperately tried to understand the old bird’s lisping speech.

“Shuddup Mous! E means pipes – pipes yer plays musik wiv.” Neo grumbled, feeling decidedly nervous, encircled as he was by Yathle’s wings, feeling her hot breath on the back of his head.

“Zorryz I’z zure,” Mous muttered angrily under his breath.

“Still it cud comes in handy like,” Make added, puffing on his pipe, “knowing her weakness I’s means.”

“Brilith have yer any suggestions?” Glob asked of the plump, kind hearted white witch.

Before she could reply, Yathle stretched her wings and said, “I have a suggestion my dear, if Brilith will excuse my interruption. My nose will soon smell Cazophen out once I’m up there in the sky. But we need to draw her out from her hiding place first. Who among you can play the pipes?” she asked, as a tiny puff of smoke escaped from her nostrils.

“I’s can. I’s knows how,” Byz replied, much to everyone’s surprise. From beneath his jerkin, he produced a new set of reed pipes and began quietly playing a pretty tune. Since he had been forcibly confined, tethered to one or other of his brothers, Byz had found a talent he never knew he had.

“I can conjure a protection spell for the whole humin village in the meantime. At least that way they will not be attacked again,” Brilith added, moving a little distance away to prepare the spell. And so, slowly but surely a plan began to be formulated. Byz with his pipes would be tethered to an oak sapling in the open grassland north of the village, where on a prearranged signal he would begin to play. Meanwhile Brilith would stand at the centre of the village square, ready to counter any further spells that Cazophen may cast. Glob, Neo, Make and Mous would search out the cave guided by Bejuss, who solemnly promised not to fly away.

~~~

     As the first rays of the dawn slowly filled the sky, Cazophen was busy searching for her familiar. “Bejuss, where are you? I need ye eye to search the village and report back to me, blast ye! Bejuss, Bejuss, blast ye bird where are…” Cazophen’s cries fell silent when she heard the most beautiful sound she had ever heard in her entire tortured existence drifting up to her on the morning air from somewhere below. Byz’ haunting melody completely mesmerized her. A smile broke free from her hideously disfigured face. She turned her head left and right trying to determine where the music was coming from. Now completely under the music’s spell, she stepped out from the shadows of her cave and hobbled trancelike down the wooded slope.

Yathle flew south away from the valley before climbing high into the sky, then turned north and slowly circled overhead ready to strike. Brilith readied herself for a battle with Cazophen’s dark magic in the village square. Glob, with Bejuss guiding them from his perch on the old goblin’s shoulder, closely followed by Neo, Make and Mous, steadily climbed through the thickly wooded slopes of the valley towards Cazophen’s cave. The raiding party stopped briefly just outside its entrance. Bejuss flew ahead and carefully peered inside before returning, happy that the cave was empty. Between them, the raiding party destroyed everything within the cave’s confines before rapidly retreating back the way they had come.

Cazophen hobbled her way out from beneath the tree line and moved towards where Byz sat tethered, happily playing his pipes, oblivious to the danger that steadily approached him. Yathle’s keen eyesight focused on the black witch far below before she began a silent but swift power dive towards her quarry. Brilith stepped forward, wand in hand, ready to parry any attack from Cazophen. Glob, Bejuss, Neo, Make and Mous watched the battle slowly unfold before their eyes from the confines of Miranda’s stable, after returning from their mission to the cave.

The spell of Byz’ haunting melody was shattered irretrievably when the ground around Cazophen suddenly erupted in a wall of flame when Yathle delivered a fire bolt from her flared nostrils. At the same moment Brilith conjured a powerful wind and sent it towards the flames. The wind rapidly turned them into a twisting fiery vortex that lifted Cazophen bodily into the air. Meantime Yathle twisted at the last possible moment from her headlong flight towards the ground and seized Cazophen in her cruel claws before biting off her head.

With the death of Cazophen, the power of her spell of revenge was broken. Soon Mica and all of the humins recovered. Not one of the plucky band who had saved the day told the humins anything of the affair, or of Cazophen. Better that they simply thought they had been struck down with terrible ills. Free once more, Bejuss chose to stay with his friends till the end of his days, while Brilith returned to her home in the east unseen by the humins, and Yathle returned to her home beyond the world. Given their fear of magic, there are things in Goblindom that humins should never ever know about. What recently happened was definitely one of them…

More later,

😉

Oh what an idiot!

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A couple of days ago my number one Sony Vaio laptop finally curled its toes and died, having its equivalent of a heart attack when its hard drive went into melt-down. Nothing unusual in that – even technology has to wear out! After all I had been using it on a daily basis three hundred and sixty-five days a year for the last three years.

The only major setback for me was that I was only three stories from the end of the third edition of my reworked fantasy anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales. While I’d religiously saved its file to the hard drive, like an idiot I hadn’t backed it up on a flash drive!!!

Fortunately I have another Vaio laptop (this one) which still works. So, it looks like I’ll be starting the rewrite once again. This time I will back up the darned file as well as saving it to this laptop’s hardrive. I retrieved the new cover, family portrait and map of Goblindom from a file here on my WordPress blog.

I was so damned close to finishing the third edition for the ebook marketplace, so very close. Serves me right for being an idiot and not backing up my crucial files…

😦

Morweth’s Speech

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In every fantasy story there is always good and evil. In my anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales, one of the good guys is the ancient white wizard Morweth. To give you a flavour of him, here is a speech he delivers right at the beginning of part two of ‘Beware on Crellen’s Mine’.

~~~

Morweth ended a heated argument over what they would do with the black wizard Crellen when they finally caught up with him. He knew only too well that this was the time for wisdom, magic and cunning not simple blind angry revenge. “No, no, no, Crellen must not die! Goblindom exists because it is in total equilibrium, unlike the world beyond our magic border. Life and death, growth and decay, summer and winter, and in magic’s case, good and evil, all contribute to keeping us hidden from prying eyes. Should any of these elements necessary to our very existence cease to be, the magic barrier will simply dissolve, and our part of the world will be ended forever, overrun by the hated humans. If you will dear friends, Goblindom and everything in it will soon be forgotten. Our capability to live in peace together and converse with each other, be we witch or wizard, raven or eagle, humin or goblin, wyvern or griffin, ogre, troll, elf, mountain gremlin, even dragon, will also end. The human’s world beyond our barrier is in a state of chaos. The different kinds living in it cannot understand each other anymore. Consequently they live in fear and kill rather than live side by side like us. Any mutual trust between all living things that they may have had is gone for all time. It’s a case of balance, do you see.”

~~~

As Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak would say, were he actually here and not merely flying around in my mind, “Well that’th yer lot – rarrk!”

😉