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,

😉

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Yet another Timeless Tale

korpunge

Looks cute – right…

~~~

Here is another tale from my anthology Goblin Tales concerning Glob’s old friend Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak…

Enter Gerald the Egg

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), and especially Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, discover that the path of parenthood is a decidedly rocky one.

It had been a whole moon since the goblin brothers returned home after their abortive attempt to rescue Yathle’s cousin Ariadne, when her insatiable curiosity tragically ended her life.
Both Glob and Neo had taken simpleminded Byz to one side and told him that under no circumstances was he ever to play the beautifully haunting tune which unlocked the barrier between the world and the one beneath ever again, no matter how tempted he may be.
While they were all helping Yathle, Bejuss had flown off in search of a mate in the southern woods, desperately wanting a son of his very own. He would soon come to regret his decision in more ways than one…

“Rarrk – wake up yer lazy good for nothin slovenly apology for a raven, jus look at the state on yer!”
Bejuss opened his one bleary eye and peered across the nest to where his mate tapped one foot, glaring angrily at him. He was about to be subjected to yet another headache inducing outburst by the poisonous harpy who had made his life a total misery. For a brief moment he wondered where the beautiful young raven he had wooed three weeks earlier had gone. Surely this couldn’t be her could it?
“Oh the shame on it; me mother warned me bout the likes on yer. Why I took yer on as me mate I’s will never know; yer disgust me! I mus have been out on me mind. Yer are hardly the catch on the year are yer? Just look at the state on yer smelly feathers – euww! By the holy egg on the great raven, smarten yerself up at once; yer is a disgrace ter our kind. As for this shambles yer call our nest. It has so many holes in it, it’s a wonder I’s haven’t fallen through one by now. Repair it at once d’yer hear me, yer flee ridden bag on bones. Why I’s has put up wiv yer I’s really don’t know. Yer’ve brought me nothin but shame n torment. I’s cannot hold me head up in polite raven society thanks ter yer!”
“Pity yer didn’t fall through one on them yer old nag,” Bejuss muttered under his breath as his headache grew in intensity, before he replied to her latest tirade. “Yeth dearetht, me’ll make repairth immediately dearetht. Anything elthe dearetht?” he added sarcastically, wishing he were dead.
“Mind yer sit on yer future halfwit’s egg, I’s most certainly have no intenshun on doing so. When it is hatched I’s shall deny all knowledge on it, do yer hear me! If yer must insist on bringing it inter the world, then yer will hatch it on yer own. On secon thoughts, I’s is leavin yer n goin home ter mother ter get over the shame – rarrk!”
After she had flown away in high dudgeon to her mother, Bejuss breathed a sigh of relief as he reflected on how his circumstances had taken such a nightmarish turn for the worse.

The day he had set off from the home he shared with the five goblin brothers, he was in the highest of spirits. Spring was in the air and the mating urge coursed through his old veins.
As he flew from one raven colony to the next in search of a mate, the raucous laughter and derision heaped upon him by the available females when they set eyes on him hurt him deeply. Far from seeing a battle scarred heroic raven, all they saw was a tattered, deformed apology for one. When he tried to woo them with one of his love poems, they all laughed at his lisping speech and his twisted beak, cruelly mocking him behind his back.
And then at the very last colony on the western edge of the wood, one stunning young raven touched his heart with her gentleness and beauty. Her name was Eunice. Unlike the rest, she liked his poetry and his company, forgiving his speech impediment, his tattered feathers, deformed beak and one eye. She even laughed at his jokes. As an impressionable young female caught up in the fever of the mating season, for her it was true love. Bejuss would be her mate. In her mind she saw him as a worldly-wise raven; a raven’s raven if you like. Certainly an adventurous, battle scarred and brave raven.
Over the next two weeks, Bejuss told her of his life and adventures with Glob and his brothers while they gathered twigs together for their nest. She often feigned a fainting fit, falling against him and sighing while fluttering her eyelashes at this tough, yet kind example of the noble order of ravens.
Then came the day their idyllic relationship quickly soured when she found herself with egg. From that moment on, nothing old Bejuss did or said was good enough anymore for young Eunice.
As her time drew near she grew more demanding, insufferable and vindictive towards him. The day finally came when after an hour of absolute agony she finally laid their egg. Bejuss was over the moon with joy. Eunice definitely was not. As far as she was concerned in her post egg laying state of mind, she had been violated by a despicable old flea bitten scoundrel.
During the agonising hour the egg took to appear, she shifted herself painfully around in the nest desperately trying get comfortable as she strained and bitterly complained. Twice she almost fell through the gaping holes in the nest Bejuss had built for her. It wasn’t his fault that the nest was imperfect. After all, as he said later to his friend Glob, “yer try buildin a perfect netht wiv one eye n a twithted beak!”

Bejuss felt the faintest movement in the egg beneath him. He shifted his weight and fluffed his feathers to keep it warm. “It’th time we woth headin home Gerald lad,” he said to his egg. Carefully he stood up, stretched himself and then gently picked up the precious egg in his beak and flew back home to Glob.
Two days after the pair had arrived home the excitement of the imminent hatching gripped all who lived in the goblin brother’s household. None of them had ever been surrogate uncles for a birdy hatchling before.
Glob had made a cosy nest box lined with dry sphagnum moss and hung it on the wall above his bed, with a perch on the outside for Bejuss to take a break from egg sitting. By the time the chick finally emerged, like Bejuss, they would all live to regret the fact that he hadn’t simply dropped it on the way home.

After breakfast on that second day, Neo peered in through the hole in the nest box at Bejuss before he went on his daily visit to Miranda the mare and her new foal. “I’s wos jus wonderin why yer calls yer egg Gerald. Wot if it aint got a boy birdy in it, wot if it’s got a girl one instead?”
Bejuss looked back out at the goblin brothers from inside the snug nest box as they gathered around Neo, all wondering the same thing. “Rarrk – courth it’ll be a boy birdy, wot elthe wud it be? Me hungry, can me have a pickled worm pleath? Me got cravinth yer know, after all me pregnant n …”
Gerald the egg began violently shaking beneath the old raven, cutting its loving parent off in midsentence.
Bejuss endured several more hours of being bounced around inside the nest box, banging his head several times on the box’s oak bark roof, giving him a pounding headache into the bargain. In the end he could stand no more. He emerged bruised and battered to take a much needed rest on Glob’s shoulder by the window, where the old goblin fed him all manner of juicy worms, slugs and snails, especially pickled for him in mead, while Byz kept a close eye on Gerald. Eventually the simpleminded goblin younger got bored and nodded off.

Inside the nest box the faintest sounds of eggshell cracking began. Gerald bounced and rolled around and around. First one leg appeared through a hole in its shell, followed shortly by a second. Gerald stood up, dazed and disoriented. If Byz had been awake, he would have seen it charge across the inside of the nest box and head-butt the box’s wooden sides in its attempt to free itself from the rest of the eggshell.
Make sat outside their door warming himself in the sun, smoking his bestest briar pipe with Mous happily dozing beside him. Neo was inside the stable feeding the new born foal, grooming its mane through his long bony fingers, lovingly watched over by Miranda. Glob and Bejuss were gazing at the wooded world outside their home through heavy, sleep deprived eyes. Eventually the sun’s warmth sent them both to sleep.
Gerald felt around with its feet and found the opening to the nest box, hopped up and fell out onto the floor, after bouncing off Byz’ head.

“Rarrk – hath anyone theen Gerald, where’th me egg gone?” Bejuss screeched at the top of his voice, after he had flown back to the nest box to resume sitting. “Me egg hath run away from home! Gerald, Gerald, where are yer lad, it’th me yer daddy, pleathe come home.”
Bejuss’ anxious cries woke everyone up from their nap in the sunshine. Glob instantly organised a complete search of their home, after scolding Byz for failing in his duty. The simpleminded soul immediately burst into tears and hid under his bed furiously sucking his thumbs.
“Gerald where ith yer lad, come home, pleathe come home. Daddy won’t be angry, me promithe – rarrk,” the old bird sadly cried out as a tear welled up in his one eye.

Gerald had struggled to stay upright as it staggered around on the ground below the goblin brother’s home. Even when it had fallen off the oak’s great bough outside the door, the remainder of its tough shell still held firm. Several times Gerald had deliberately walked straight into a rock, trying to smash itself. It even rolled down a small slope hoping to break open at long last. Then it felt itself being picked up and turned over with its legs in the air, making it dizzy.
“Look mummy I’ve found a birdy egg,” Ylesse happily announced, as she ran inside to show her latest find to her mother, Agnitha. Between them they carefully cracked the rest of the eggshell and at last the chick inside was free.
“Rarrk!” the chick cawed indignantly, stamping one tiny foot and glaring angrily at them.
At that moment Glob appeared at Agnitha and Mica’s door out of breath, and politely knocked. “Mornins Agnitha, mornins Ylesse. Has either on yer seen an egg? Bejuss has lost his n he’s worried sick.”
They both stood to one side revealing the minute angry raven chick standing amid the broken eggshell fragments on Agnitha’s table. “Here she is Glob. You had better take her home to her father,” Agnitha smiled, gently handing the chick over, “she desperately needs feeding.”
Glob chuckled to himself as he carefully carried the irate raven chick home. “I’s can’t waits ter sees the look on yer old dad’s face when he finds out he’s gots hisself a girl birdy n not a boy. Gerald indeed; more likes Geraldine I’s thinks eh lass?” Geraldine failed to see the joke and pecked one of Glob’s thumbs.
When he walked through the door with Geraldine now angrily sitting on his shoulder furiously pecking his earlobe and glaring at everything in sight, Bejuss’ face briefly lit up. But his happiness and relief was short lived. “Ylesse found her n gots her out on her egg,” Glob announced, barely able to suppress his laughter despite the pain from his bleeding ear.
“Yer mean me got a girl birdy chick?” Bejuss spluttered as his face fell. “Oh no, it can’t be,” he said looking in disbelief at his daughter. Geraldine was the spitting image of her mother, despite the fact that she was covered in fluffy down. There was that same baleful look in her eyes; the same indignant cock of the head. Even when she impatiently tapped her tiny foot, Bejuss saw a miniature Eunice glaring back at him.
“Fraid so old friend, meets yer daughter Geraldine,” Glob replied, with tears of laughter in his eyes, as he carefully set her down beside her shocked father on the back of his chair.
Geraldine instantly pecked her father hard on his feet, legs and wings. When he lowered his old head to peer closely at her, she furiously pecked it, raising painful lumps and rattling his brain, demanding to be fed.
Over the next several days, he worked tirelessly bringing his angry young daughter food. At one point, he seriously contemplated committing chickicide. All he had to do was decapitate this miniature angry incarnation of Eunice with his razor sharp twisted beak, and his nightmare would end.
But his inbuilt instincts insisted he did his fatherly duty. By the time she was fully fledged, she had grown into a full size carbon copy of her mother in every way possible. While she would undeniably turn a young male raven’s head with her good looks in the future, like her mother, once she had accepted him she would make his life hell on wings.

At long last the day finally arrived when Geraldine flew the nest, much to the relief of Bejuss and the five severely pecked goblin brothers. Being constantly harangued by Eunice was bad enough, but for Bejuss to endure it for a second time from a pint sized version of her, was truly unbearable. “Good riddance yer hellion. Me hope all yer featherth fall out, it’ll therve yer right!” he muttered to himself while watching Geraldine climb into the air without a backward glance, on her first solo journey into the world.
Everyone inside the oak tree heaved a collective sigh of relief. Glob gave Neo a knowing wink. “Cheers up Bejuss lad, it cuds have beens worse,” he said nudging Neo to join in on his little joke.
“Worthe, how cud it be worthe?” the old bird grumpily replied while preening his tattered feathers.
“Simple lad,” Neo replied, with a mischievous look in his crossed eyes, “yer egg Gerald, might have been a double yoker. Jus think on it for a moment. Instead on one Geraldine, yer cud have hads two on them ter plague yer for the rest on yer days. Three, if yer include yer mate Eunice.”
Bejuss hung his head wincing at the nightmarish notion. Neo winked at Glob as he quickly left to see Miranda and her foal.
Glob sat looking out the window for a long time with a grin on his old face. Make and Mous took Byz outside onto the bough to stop his constant giggling. Even he got the joke. For a few moments they left poor old Bejuss alone in the rafters with his thoughts. He had had a lucky escape after his brief encounter with domestic bliss. “Never agin, never ever agin,” he muttered to himself, shaking his old head and feeling decidedly sick in the pit of his stomach.
Glob turned and looked up at his feathered friend. He couldn’t resist one last good natured dig at the old bird’s expense. “Of course she cuds jus comes back yer knows Bejuss lad. She’s probably gone ter fetch her mother. Wants me ter make yer nest box big enuff fer three? It’s no truble honest, I’s only thinkin on yer family n their happiness yer knows.”
Bejuss cursed and glared angrily at the silly grin spreading across Glob’s face. “Rarrk, juth thhuddup n leave me be can’t yer!” he lisped angrily.
Glob joined his brothers outside in the sunshine where they all roared with uncontrollable laughter. The day Gerald the egg had entered their lives would be the subject of much hilarity for many evenings to come.

~~~

The moral of the story has to be – be careful what you wish for, don’t you think?

😉