An Early Timeless Tale

gremlin

The mountain gremlin Lungwort

~~~

Evils shadow grows longer

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

~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

😉

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The Ultimate Timeless Tale

Minotaur-Vs-Doctor

Giath the Minotaur

~~~

Winter fast approached. In the valley, freezing cold winds accompanied by rain and sleet signalled the change of seasons. The weather drove most of its inhabitants indoors to seek shelter and warmth. Inside the goblin brother’s home, all were suffering from cabin fever after spending almost a whole moon trapped by the foul conditions.

Beyond Goblindom’s borders, Morag, the warrior queen of the largest human tribe and her son prince Olin sat in the feasting hall of her royal long house, talking with the chiefs of the recently arrived tribes. They were finding it hard to keep the peace among the growing numbers migrating north from their former homes in the hot deserts far to the south. Each new tribe arriving here in the north fought those who had already settled down, to claim land for themselves. Morag struggled to persuade most to travel east or west. Land hungry eyes focussed on the seemingly impenetrable mountains further to the north, surrounding the hidden world of the goblins.

The antics of a particularly troublesome goblin caused sleepless nights for two individuals who cherished Goblindom’s peaceful isolation from the savage humans beyond its borders. His mindless deeds were about to be brought to the notice of all, whether inside Goblindom, or the world beyond.

Artemus Wainpin (Mus), a venerable mountain goblin shaman, and his lifelong friend Morweth the white wizard, travelled to speak with Mica’s father-in-law, Yestin, the humin shaman. None living in Goblindom, apart from Mus and Morweth, fully realized or indeed appreciated how the actions of the goblin in question and the events slowly unfolding beyond the barrier, could bring great peril to this relatively peaceful hidden land. Yestin was flattered that they had both sought his counsel. He sat quietly while his visitors warmed their bones beside his fire. When they began to explain the reason for their visit he listened intently. Morweth cleared his throat, before saying, “Mus recently brought to my attention the fact that a rogue mountain goblin by the name of Dillfeather Fairglorn has been raiding the world of the humans for the last two moons. So far the humans have not discovered who or what is causing them trouble. Somehow he has found a way to travel freely back and forth through our magical barrier. There must be another weak point in it somewhere. He must be stopped! Should the bloodthirsty, warlike humans follow him and witness his re-entry into Goblindom, our land and all of its inhabitants will be placed in grave peril.” Having told his terrible news the ancient wizard slumped in the chair he sat in clearly dreading the prospect of an imminent human invasion.

Mus removed his shaman’s badge of office, the horned mountain goat skull cap he wore on his head. He carefully placed it on the floor beside the stool he sat on. Then he rose to stand with his back to the fire before adding his own observations. “Wot Morweth says is true Yestin lad, buts there’s summink far worse wot trubles us more than Dill’s raids beyond our border. He’s founds a way ter open the barrier twixt the world we’s all lives in n the one neath us. Shud he lets all the beasties wot inhabits it loose, none on us, not humin, goblin, elf, troll, ogre, wyvern, griffin, wizard, witch, or human come ter that, wills be safe. We’s mus seek helps from the human queen Morag wivout her knowin who or where we are. Shud Dill takes it inter his head ter join forces wiv all the evil neath our feets, it’ll takes many more than jus us ter fights them. They is magic beasties wot wos driven below at the end of the time afore ter stops them causin truble. Once they is free they wills soon finds us n wipes us all out.”

Yestin sat in silence for many minutes digesting the news. Their hidden world had never before been threatened like this. “We should call a meeting of all the kinds who live here within Goblindom’s borders immediately. I agree that we need to find a solution to this latest danger my friends before it’s too late,” he said with a note of resignation in his voice.

By the end of the moon the leaders of all the kinds living within Goblindom sat around a large table inside the great throne room, deep within the ancestor oak. Her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook, mother of all, had taken charge of the proceedings. Their only topic of debate was an unlikely alliance with the warring human tribes beyond their border. The very idea of working with the much feared humans should Dill release the beasts, naturally made everyone highly nervous. Hermione took a brief moment to look at the familiar faces of all the leaders seated around the table before saying to them, “someone needs to travel to Morag’s settlement – but which one should we send? No matter whom we decide upon, they’re likely to be killed on sight by the murderous humans!”

Lox, the leader of the elves, sowed a seed of hope when she told all assembled, “the humans, besides being killers, are superstitious creatures. They believe in higher beings they call gods. In particular they pray to one they deem to be the lord of all who they call Odin. Perhaps playing on their superstitions may be the way.”

The grand high goblin, Obadiah Fingletook, Hermione’s first born son, shifted his bloated body on his throne and snorted with derision. “Gods, what are gods! Never heard of such a thing; and what does superstitious and pray mean?”

Hermione glared at him. “Be silent Obadiah! I’m in no mood for your childish outbursts. Go to your room at once!” she declared, with a seldom heard degree of absolute authority in her voice.

Obadiah’s flabby face reddened with embarrassment when his mother chastised him in front of the assembled leaders, who all chuckled quietly to themselves. He opened his mouth to object. But when all the leaders joined his mother in glaring angrily at him, his lips and fat chin quivered as tears welled up in his eyes. He quickly lowered his head and left the throne room in disgrace.

With the distraction over, Hermione encouraged Lox to continue by asking her, “how do you know so much about these human gods my dear?” Lox obliged by relating how before the magic border was installed at the end of the time before, she and her kind had wandered freely among the few surviving humans of the first battle between humanity and Goblindom, relatively unnoticed. She had listened to them invoking their god’s help in their darkest hour. One human she came across, and did her best to make comfortable as his end drew near, told her of Odin and the mythical land of Asgard where he dwelled with all the other human gods. He also told her of Odin’s two winged messengers Huginn and Muninn. Before he breathed his last, he revealed what kind of creature the messengers were. When Hermione suggested who the messenger should be, the leaders were all in total agreement. Carefully dictated by Lox, a missive to the human queen was written down by Morweth in the old human tongue of the west from the time before, still used by Morag’s tribe. Lox was then charged with delivering it to the intended messenger with instructions to seek out queen Morag or her son prince Olin.

Dill approached the barrier to the world beneath. Giath, the murderer of Yathle’s cousin Ariadne, stood on the other side of the barrier impatient for battle. The mountain goblin opened the barrier long enough to let him walk through before closing it quickly behind him. The stench of brimstone filled the air briefly while the barrier remained open. Murderous eyes watched the proceedings from the darkness behind where Giath had stood, impatient for their own release.

A few hours later, reports reached Morag’s ears that a powerful horned beast, along with another strange creature armed to the teeth, was on the rampage killing all humans in the farthest north-eastern settlements. Dill had released the last living Minotaur, intent on using him to create mayhem. Morag was about to send out a decree calling all her warriors to arms, with the intent of sending them off to seek out the invaders when an otherworldly visitor arrived unannounced. Morag, Olin and the assembled chiefs were terrified when one of Odin’s legendary messengers magically appeared in the hall and landed on one arm of her throne. It carried a scroll. “Mighty Huginn, what message do you bring us?” Morag nervously enquired, wide eyed with terror and foreboding. Olin and the assembled chiefs prostrated themselves on the floor of the hall in fear, not daring to look up. The messenger fixed her briefly with its gaze before dropping the scroll in her lap. Morag calmed herself and broke the seal before reading the message out loud for all to hear.

Morag my mortal daughter,

I have seen an intruder on the outer edge of my lands. His name is Dillfeather Fairglorn. He has found a way into the dangerous world beneath that in which you dwell. I know he intends to use the fearsome beasts I banished eons ago to the darkness beneath your feet in his bid to conquer the whole world and rid it of humans and the many other kinds living alongside you.

The beast he has released is the Minotaur Giath. Do not underestimate Dill or his evil companion. Giath is not only strong, but also possesses great magic in his voice. While you may eventually kill Dillfeather with spear, sword, or arrow, Giath is a different matter entirely.

In my own land beyond the mountains to the north of you, dwell many you have never set eyes upon, whom I choose to hide and protect from your kind. They are largely peaceful beings who worship at my feet. They fear what may happen should the magical beasts or you and your kind find them.

Disobey me at your peril Morag. If you try to enter my land, I will wage war upon you. At my command my son Thor protects all who live peacefully here in Asgard. Your kind must never travel any further north on pain of death. A few foolhardy humans have tried in the past to scale Asgards mountain borders and have been killed by my ever watchful Thor and his guards.

I shall send magical beasts of my own design to protect your army and to kill Giath and Dillfeather Fairglorn. If you and your chiefs agree to my demands, merely nod youre heads in my messengers presence. Shake them, and beware my rage. Huginn will return to me with your decision.

I Odin, lord of Asgard, command this.

Morag and Olin, along with the assembled human chiefs all nodded their heads vigorously in stunned silence, before watching wide eyed as Huginn simply vanish into thin air.

“Well, what did they say?” Morweth enquired.

“Morag, her chick Olin, n the other chief’th all nodded their headth Morweth. They’th all agree with yer proposal – rarrk.” Bejuss replied, once he had recovered from his long flight back.

“Glob my dearest son, you know what to do next,” Hermione said quietly to the old southern woods goblin after hearing the welcome news. Without a word he immediately went outside the ancestor oak with his emerald topped staff to summon Yathle, while Bejuss flew off to recruit Slyth, Garr, and as many other griffins as he could muster, along with all the birds of prey he could find.

At first light the following morning the skies above Morag’s army were filled with a frightening mixture of flying beasts circling above the humans. Yathle led the aerial armada of over a thousand wyverns and griffins, aided by flights of eagles and hawks, all ready for what was to come. By noon battle was joined on the snow covered open plains to the northwest of Goblindom.

Prince Olin’s battle horn had barely sounded the charge before Giath’s terrible bellow took its toll. The ear splitting sounds emanating from him tore the front ranks of humans asunder. Hundreds died horribly when their minds were turned to mush. The human’s spears and arrows had no effect on him whatsoever, merely bouncing off his impenetrable coat of thick hair. Many warriors were impaled on his massive horns when he lowered his head and charged.

Dill’s sword severed legs, while his dagger put out eyes, or disembowelled stomach’s when the unfortunate human he had just wounded lay helpless at his feet.

Giath picked up the nearest human to him by one leg like a child picks up a rag doll. He whirled his unfortunate victim above his head with ease before effortlessly throwing him into the charging ranks of human warriors. Many were felled in this fashion. Many more were trampled beneath Giath’s massive hooves.

Then Yathle and her armada attacked from on high. On her command, Slyth led his fellow griffins in a headlong dive towards Dill, while she and her sister wyverns, assisted by the eagles and hawks, sought out Giath. Morag’s army retreated when Olin blew his battle horn once again, after he had seen Odin’s many beasts descend from the sky above his head. From their vantage point on a low hill behind the battlefront, the remaining humans watched with a mixture of fear and fascination as the unfolding fight between Odin’s beasts of magic and the two unwelcome intruders began in deadly earnest.

Despite the relentless fiery barrage from the wyverns, Giath continued to bellow while crushing, tearing and trampling the rear ranks of humans when they answered Olin’s command to retreat. He saw something to one side of him out of the corner of his eye. His friend Dill was in grave danger of being beheaded by the vicious razor sharp beaks of the griffins. Forgetting the retreating humans for the moment Giath turned to assist the tiny goblin. Dill desperately slashed his sword wildly above his head, as the griffins snapped at him with each pass made at head height. Luckily for him he ducked at the last possible moment before Slyth’s great beak snapped shut where his head had been mere seconds before. The griffin soared skyward to prepare for his next attack run.

Meanwhile, his brother Garr levelled off behind the goblin ready to attack. He was totally focused on his intended victim when his own life brutally ended. Giath had arrived in the nick of time. He stood legs astride, towering over the tiny mountain goblin. He grabbed the unfortunate griffin in mid-flight with one of his gigantic clawed hands before quickly biting its neck. Garr died instantly. On witnessing the death of his brother, Slyth was overcome with blind rage, revenge and grief. He let out his war cry, calling on his brother griffins to join him in his headlong suicidal attack, completely ignoring Dill for the moment. Yathle, her sisters, and the thousands of eagles and hawks accompanying them, formed into their attack formations and prepared to follow the griffins down to the bloody scene below. Wave after wave of griffins flew at Giath from all directions. Many perished as he seized them when they closed within arm’s reach, ripping their heads or wings off, before trampling them beneath his hooves.

Dill was terrified and powerless to help. He ran away as fast as he could, heading for the safety of Goblindom’s barrier. Yathle and her sisters changed direction and gave chase. Soon there was nothing left of the mischievous goblin but a pile of smoking ash. Now it was time to end Giath’s existence. Yathle sounded her terrible battle cry, signalling the griffin’s withdrawal. Giath was enveloped in wave after wave of fiery blasts delivered by the wyvern sisters, while his mind destroying bellows continued to reduce the humans closest to the battle to gibbering fools.

Covering his ears from Giath’s assault on his very soul, Olin watched the fiery assault completely spellbound. The evil beast’s seemingly impenetrable hairy coat was eventually burnt away revealing his seared flesh. Flights of eagles and hawks now joined in the attack, tearing great lumps of charred flesh from Giath’s back, head and arms, before each fresh wave of wyverns attacked once more. By late afternoon what remained of Giath lay on the blood stained snow of the battleground.

Yathle landed on the hill towering over a now completely terrified Olin, while her sisters and the griffins surrounded the remnants of the human army, viewing them with murderous eyes. Fixing him with her golden hypnotic gaze, she spoke to him in his own tongue, delivering Odin’s last command. “My lord and master mighty Odin has charged me to say this to you – leave these lands forever, you and your kind are not welcome here. Go while you still can. Disobey my wishes and I will send my son Thor at the head of my vast army of beasts to wage war upon you. Return here at your peril – now be gone!” Then with a flap of her powerful wings she rose into the sky and flew north accompanied by the vast armada of her sister wyverns. The grieving Slyth and his remaining griffin brothers, accompanied by the countless flights of eagles and hawks followed close behind.

Olin led the remaining members of the chastened human army back to his mother Morag. Only time would tell if they would heed Odin’s demand to leave this place…

Want to read more tales like this? click on the following: Goblin Tales by [Eason, Jack]

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One More Timeless Tale

Schnoz-Goblin-NC-LP-2

The Goblin Seer Snailwort Dewthorn (Dew)

~~~

Snailworts Bunion

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), and curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), seek advice, while Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, seeks revenge.

~~~

It had been nearly half a moon since Mica’s portly friend Cantor finally extracted himself from the goblin brother’s home. Despite his pathetic pleading to be fed, both Mica and Glob refused to bring him any food. Cantor had no choice but to wait until he was slim enough to squeeze his humin sized frame out through the goblin brother’s tiny front door.

Glob’s twig cousin Lim had been taken to the ancestor oak where her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook, mother of all, employed him to look after her petulant first born son Obadiah. Should Lim feel tempted to steal from either of them in the future, he would instantly be thrown into the dungeons beneath the ancestor oak.

Magical Goblindom was once again clothed in its finest colours. Best of all, it was at peace. Summer was fast approaching. The trees of the southern wood were in full leaf. Wild flowers swayed in the gentle breezes. Birds sung their beautiful songs. The plains were covered in verdant grasses, and the many crags of the mountains that marked the west and east boundaries of Goblindom, were richly decorated with flowering alpine plants. All the kinds that lived alongside the three tribes of goblins were busy caring for their new-born.

Snailwort Dewthorn sat on a three legged wooden stool outside his stout double skinned oak door, smoking his clay pipe while basking in the warm sunshine. Unlike all other plains goblins, Dew lived alone. All of the countless wars that were inflicted upon Goblindom, over the thousands of summers of its existence, started by petty squabbles between the three goblin tribes, which inevitably drew in the other kinds living alongside them, had simply passed him by. He loved his snug little abode. He had excavated it in the side of a middle sized mound in the vast western plains, a thousand summers ago when he was a younger. Beyond the front door was a short passageway with doors leading off it, both right and left. At the end of the passageway was the door to his bedroom. The second door on the left led into his extremely tidy living room, dominated by a large fireplace. On either side of the fireplace he had placed high backed carved oak settles, furnished with cobweb cushions for comfort. The other doors accessed from the passageway led variously to his kitchen, a scullery and pantry, his brewing room and a guest bedroom, which, because he normally had no guests to stay, doubled as his store room. Goblins of all kinds came from far and wide to trade for an acorn shaped barrel or two of his most excellent clover mead. More importantly, all within Goblindom no matter what kind they may be, sought out his advice from time to time. Dew’s gift of second sight, thanks to his bunion, was legendary.

He had just nodded off with his pipe wedged firmly between two of his teeth in the sun’s warmth, when he was suddenly woken up in a blind panic when Miranda snorted and her foal neighed loudly. “Arternoon Dew, we’s comes ter seeks yer advice,” Glob announced as he and his brothers climbed down from the old mare’s back. Neo hobbled her before he put the straps of her nose bag full of fresh hay, over her head and gently guided the foal’s mouth to her teat, before following the rest inside.

Bejuss was about to enter, perched in his customary position on Glob’s shoulder, when Dew held up his hand and declared solemnly, “no raven’s is allowed insides me home. Yer kind is cursed in these here parts – be gone black messenger on evil!”

Quite naturally, the old bird took umbrage and began spluttering indignantly. To say Bejuss was incensed, would be an understatement. Glob temporarily silenced him with a juicy slug and sat him between Miranda’s ears, asking him to keep watch. After he had swallowed the delicious morsel he began complaining bitterly at the top of his voice. “Curthed, meththenger on evil indeed – how dare he thay thuch a thing! Rarrk – who doeth he think he ith?”

Simpleminded Byz’s eyes grew wide with amazement as he looked at all of the treasures old Dew had gathered together over his long life. All around them on countless shelves, nooks and ledges sat pieces of wood the old goblin had carved to represent magical beasts, together with beautiful jewels, polished snail shells, intricately carved acorns and a few wooden puzzles that Dew liked to solve during the long evenings beside his fire. It was one of these that Byz picked up and began to play with while the rest talked.

“Sit yerselves down lads – mead anyone?”

After several welcome mugs of the finest mead any of them had ever tasted, Glob explained the reason for their visit. “We’s gots us a problem wiv a plains goblin on yer acquaintance wot is terrorizin folk where we live in the southern woods Dew,” Glob began, while relaxing by the fire in the settle opposite their host.

Despite the thickness of his door, Dew and his guests could still hear Bejuss ranting outside. Dew puffed on his pipe for a few moments, thinking to himself, bringin that bird ter me home is unlucky. Turning his mind back to the immediate problem, he emptied the ash in his pipe into the fireplace and asked Glob, “Wot’s this plains goblin’s name?”

“Oliphant Wiseblat.”

“Ah, hmm – so that’s where he’s bin n gorn ter is it – the southern woods. He’s a baddun n no mistake Glob. Hows cans I’s help?”

Glob put down his mug and though for a while. “Cans yer tells us his weakness? Wot cans we do ter catch him?” Dew’s legendary bunion immediately began to throb. He carefully removed the extra-large willow bark boot housing his left foot and the huge bunion, before crossing his left leg over his right. Deathly silence ensued while Dew began closely studying his bunion. Apart from Bejuss who was still complaining bitterly outside, and the crackling of the flames in the fireplace, no sound could be heard inside the confines of Dew’s home. Neo started to fidget on the uncomfortable stool he sat on. Make, who was seated beside Glob, packed his bestest briar pipe with a plug of fresh honeysuckle baccy, lent over Glob’s lap to the fire, lit a taper and applied it to his pipe. Mous, who had sat next to Dew, began humming quietly to himself. Glob stared into the fire, idly drumming his long bony fingers on the armrest of the settle.

Dew continued to study his bunion in silence. Divining the signs and omens was not to be rushed. He looked closely at the lines that crisscrossed the surface of the throbbing growth, and its many colours. He even took note of the amount of pain the bunion caused him at specific moments, along with the frequency of its throbbing. Sometimes he cocked his head from side to side to study it from different angles. Occasionally he uttered things like, “Hmm,” or, “Well? No, that can’t be right. Maybe that’s it. Oh dear no, that’s nots it either!” While Dew concentrated intently, with the exception of simpleminded Byz who was happily playing, his guests all eventually fell asleep, bored out of their minds. Outside, even old Bejuss’ anger had finally dissipated for the moment. “I’s gots it!” the old plains goblin suddenly shouted, waking the slumbering goblin brothers when he leapt victoriously to his feet, briefly throwing them into panic.

Neo fell off his stool, crashing to the floor in a heap. He had been dreaming that he and Miranda were picking flowers in the meadow behind her stable. Mous soiled himself, turned bright purple with embarrassment at the resultant stench, apologised profusely and quickly ran outside. Byz burst into tears and began furiously sucking his thumbs. Make got such a shock that he dropped his still smouldering pipe on his lap, scorching his second best jerkin. Glob violently broke wind and began furiously fanning the air around him. “Wot has yer gots Dew?” he asked, after he had regained his composure.

Dew began dancing a merry jig on his right leg, waving his left foot and its bunion in the air in triumph, “Why, the answer yer cames ter me for, wot else?”

“Well that wos a complete wastes on time,” Neo snarled, when they all began the long return journey home, sitting on Miranda’s broad back. Simpleminded Byz rode on Miranda’s foal, who trotted happily beside her mother. “Puts out a barrel on mead, n a pile on honeycomb in a glade indeed; even I’s cud have thoughts on that!” Neo grumbled, becoming more irritated by the second. Clearly like its owner, after a thousand summers, Dew’s bunion was feeling its age. either that or it was losing its powers of divination.

Glob, with Bejuss perched on his shoulder, sat on Miranda’s broad haunches talking quietly. “Rarrk – me’ll fly over ter athk Morweth wot ter do,” the old bird lisped in Glob’s ear. Glob sighed and nodded his head in agreement. “I’sll summon Yathle old friend, n we’ll goes tergether. I’s sorry I’s suggested seekin out Dew’s advice, n I’s really sorry he said wot he dids bout yer Bejuss lad. Can’s yer ever forgives me?”

Bejuss briefly stopped preening his feathers. “Rarrk – he’th a rude old grotkin Glob, twerent yer fault,” the old raven replied with a black look on his face, not that anyone looking at him at the time could tell because of his black plumage. First he would help his friends deal with the immediate problem of Oliphant Wiseblat and then…

“So, wots we’s goin ter do bout Oli thens?” Make sighed, after they had all got home, tired and totally disillusioned by Dew’s completely useless advice. He knocked the ash out of his pipe into the fire, idly watching tiny sparks snake their way through the fireplace’s thick layer of soot.

Oliphant himself solved the problem for them soon after dawn the following day, when he attacked Verig’s young son Barron, at the edge of the humin village. The child had been running an errand for his mother Megan, when the plains goblin seized him from behind and began choking him. Young Barron was no match for Oli in strength. Instead he sunk his teeth into the goblin’s powerful forearm, drawing blood. The combined terrified cries of the child, and the angry grunts of the goblin, brought everyone out of their roundhouses, armed to the teeth.Verig flew at Oli with his flint bladed knife, determined to rescue his son from the evil goblin, closely followed by Mica, Cantor, Jasper and Manx. Realising his grave error, Oli quickly released the humin child and ran for his worthless life, heading north towards the woods.

Glob and his brothers had heard the commotion and quickly armed themselves. By the time they reached the ground beneath their oak tree home, the blood curdling war cries of the humin warriors heading their way in hot pursuit, plus the sound of their pounding feet, made their green goblin blood run cold. The next moment Oli crashed headlong into Neo. In his desperation to get away from the angry humins, he had been looking over his shoulder at his pursuers instead of where he was going. Make, Mous and Glob leapt upon him as he fought to free himself from Neo’s strong grip. Byz joined in the tussle beneath their home, biting Oli’s gnarled leathery nose, drawing blood. Mica and Verig with Cantor, Jasper and Manx close on their heels arrived a few moments later. Verig seized Oli by his ragged ears and lifted him bodily into the air with Glob and his brothers still clinging on, biting and gouging the plains goblin’s face, arms, legs and body with their sharp teeth and talon-like nails.

“Let go of him Glob, call off your brothers. We’ll deal with him,” Mica yelled, to make himself heard over the angry snarls and growls of the goblin brothers, and the screams of their victim.

After tempers had cooled somewhat, Glob asked that Oli be taken before the wise council. Verig quite naturally wanted to execute him on the spot, backed up by Cantor and the rest of the angry humin warriors and Glob’s brothers, who were all howling for his blood. Mica held up his hand. “No, Glob is right my friends. This monster has been plaguing far more folk than just us. There will be many across Goblindom who will want to see justice done. Cantor, bind him and take him back to the village for now and throw him in the cage. “Neo, will you take Miranda please and bring back Figblaster Cornshuffle to arrest him? His fate must be placed in the hands of the wise council.” Turning to Verig, he said,” Don’t worry friend, his days of terrorising Goblindom are over now. Go home and take care of young Barron.”

As the goblin brothers watched Cantor carry Oli away under his arm, surrounded by the rest of the humin warriors, all eager to do him harm, Glob looked all about him. “Anybody seed Bejuss?” On seeing there was no need for him to join in with the apprehension of Oli, the old raven had flown off on a mission of his own.

Slyth the griffin was dozing outside the cave he shared with his brother Garr, after finishing his meal. They had managed to take a party of mountain goblins by complete surprise, seizing and carrying off the fattest two. “It’th me Thlyth, me needth yer help ter take me revenge – rarrk.”

The fierce griffin opened his jet black eyes when his good friend announced his presence, glad to see him. “How can I’s help Bejuss? Need someone killed perhaps?” Bejuss hopped onto Slyth’s head and whispered his problem into his ear. If it were possible for a griffin to grin, he would have. Bejuss’ plan for revenge appealed greatly. Between them they talked over their strategy. At Slyth’s suggestion, Bejuss flew off to a particular location close by to gather an ingredient the griffin deemed was necessary. Within the hour the old bird successfully returned.

Dew was dozing beside his fireplace. A loud knock on his door woke him from a deep sleep. His bunion throbbed violently. The old plains goblin hobbled out of his living room and down the passageway to his stout front door. “H-h-who is it?” he nervously enquired from behind the stout oak door. His bunion did its best to warn him of impending danger. The next thing he heard were spine chilling screams and the sound of vicious claws tearing at the outer surface of his door. He hobbled back up the passageway to his bedroom as fast as he could. Rapidly bolting the door behind him, he gathered his bed and all of the furniture in the room to form a barricade which he cowered behind, trembling with fear for the rest of the night.

The next morning all was quiet. Dew plucked up his courage and began removing his hastily erected barricade. Grabbing his club he unbolted his bedroom door and crept down the passageway to his front door. He carefully placed his ear against it. Hearing nothing unusual he nervously removed the stout oak beam that barred it and opened the door. The whole outer skin of the door was torn to shreds. Splinters of oak lay on the ground. Clearly a monster had tried to enter. Then something caught his eye. Someone had left him a gift on the three legged stool he normally used to snooze in the sunshine, just to one side of the door.

When Glob opened his eyes, his old friend Bejuss was roosting in his normal place in the rafters of their home. The brothers ate their breakfast in silence. Glob fed Bejuss his favourites, fat juicy slugs, snails and worms. After breakfast, Neo left to visit Miranda and her foal while Make and Mous did the washing up. Byz played with his pets beneath his bed as usual. Glob sat beside the window digesting his breakfast, with old Bejuss perched on his shoulder. Once again, all seemed well in the southern woods.

Two days later dreadful news reached the brothers. Snailwort Dewthorn had been found dead. A plains goblin of his acquaintance, one Gordline Mountview, had journeyed from his home on the westernmost edge of the vast plains, just below Dragontooth Mountain, to trade buttercup flavoured tobacco for a barrel of Dew’s clover mead. On arrival he saw that the severely damaged door stood wide open. He called out before entering, thinking Dew was busy somewhere inside. To his horror he found the old goblin seer’s body lying in a foetal position in a pool of vomit on the floor of his living room. The tortured look on his blackened face signalled to anyone who saw it, the extreme agony he had suffered in his last moments before death. Beside him was a bowl containing the remnants of his last meal and his wooden spoon.

Mount quickly travelled to the wise council with his terrible news. They duly sent the bounty hunter Figblaster Cornshuffle to investigate and report back. Fig gathered all the evidence he could find and returned by nightfall after burying Dew. The wise council concluded after two long days and nights of deliberation that Dew had committed suicide by deliberately eating a bowl full of Destroying Angel, a highly poisonous form of mushroom, while the balance of his mind was disturbed. The effects of eating the deadly mushroom were well known by most living in Goblindom. It takes a whole day and night before any symptoms appear. But by then it is too late.

Whether Glob suspected Bejuss’ involvement in Dew’s death or not, he kept silent. Never once did he broach the subject with his old friend, or mentioning it to another living soul. For his part, all Bejuss ever wanted was to make Dew sorry for insulting him. His plan was simply to give the old goblin seer a nasty scare. When Slyth sent him to gather the mushrooms, and later on his instructions, leave them on the stool while he issued his terrible cry and tore at the door with his sharp talons, the old raven honestly had no idea just how lethal the mushrooms were. Either way, he never again took revenge on another living soul for the rest of his days. Plus it would be some time before he asked Slyth for help of a personal nature in the future.

The Time Before Map

~~~

Revenge is always a dish best served cold…

😉

A further Timeless Tale

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Glob’s twig cousin, Limberespan Van der Graff

~~~

Thicker Than Sap

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), and Bejuss the lisping one-eyed raven with the twisted beak, hide a fugitive.

~~~

Glob was having a wonderful dream. He was laying on a bed of freshly picked oak leaves beneath the ancient branches of the ancestor oak, being fed honeycomb by her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook, mother of all, who lay beside him naked as the day is long, while she gently kissed his forehead and stroked his leathery old ears, making him squirm in ecstasy. His nose which was definitely not dreaming, twitched violently. The next moment he woke barely able to breathe, choking on the pungent fumes that filled the entire household.

Bejuss felt ill, so much so that he fell from his customary perch in the rafters to the floor. His eye watered as he did the best he could to cover his nostrils with the thick flight feathers of one wing.

Make felt distinctly queasy. Half awake, he filled his bestest briar pipe with a plug of his honeysuckle flavoured tobacco, lit it, and inhaled deeply before filling the room with smoke to drive off the stench. The combination of the pungent smell and thick tobacco smoke woke Mous, who immediately threw up on their still sleeping younger brother, simple-minded Byz.

Neo could not stand the overpowering smell either. In sheer desperation he covered his face with his cobweb blankets in an attempt to get away from it. His stomach heaved violently. Leaping out of bed with one hand clamped firmly across his mouth, he rushed to the window. Quickly flinging it open, he began breathing in sweet lungful’s of fresh air through his long pointed goblin nose. But it was too late. His stomach had simply had enough. It decided to revolt and emptied its contents, spraying them through his fingers down the gnarled bark of the old oak.

“Rarrk – wot jutht died?” Bejuss cried as he flew rapidly through the opened window, glad to be in the fresh air.

Make and Mous both ran for the door to escape the foul odour. But it was strongest there. Something was blocking it from the outside, preventing them from flinging it wide open.

Byz crawled inside one of the kitchen cupboards in a desperate attempt to get away from the smell, but to no avail. The poor soul threw up in the nearest thing at hand, Neo’s favourite mead mug.

Glob staggered across to the window from his own bed, far greener in the face than was natural for a southern woods goblin, and stuck his head outside beside his cross-eyed curmudgeonly brother who was slowly recuperating.

From the twig he perched on among the sweet-smelling leaves of their oak tree home, Bejuss eventually spied the problem.

Huddled against their door was a pathetic figure. He was practically naked, clad only in a filthy flax loincloth, and shivering uncontrollably despite sweating profusely from fever, which added to the overpowering stench from his body. On his head he wore a faded red batwing parchment convict skull-cap, with tattered flaps that barely covered his ears. Grey hair flowed in tangles across his shoulders. His thick pointed nose stuck out above a bedraggled white moustache and a long filthy beard which grew down to his chest. The only other item of clothing he wore was a pair of tattered willow bark boots, from which the blackened nails of his toes protruded. Great clouds of flies surrounded him, while maggots feasted on the dead flesh in his many wounds.

“Rarrk – there’th thomeone laying againtht our door Glob; he don’t look well. Maybe he’th dead,” Bejuss reported, making sure not to get too close to the cause of the gut-wrenching smell.

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

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

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

Glob and Make tended to his festering wounds using honeycomb and fresh sphagnum moss, after bathing, feeding and clothing him. Then Lim began his story.

As Glob had said, they were both born from adjacent acorns harvested from the Van der Graff twig which grows out of the fourth largest limb of the ancestor oak. As we already know from her magnificence’s previous explanation to Glob, when the acorns are carefully selected by her, they are taken to the birthing room to maintain the finite number of goblins living within Goblindom.

For the first six summers of their lives the twig cousins were extremely close. They often found themselves defending one another, whenever the other young goblins ganged up on either of them. To emphasise how close they were back then, Lim informed Glob’s brothers, “blood is thicker than sap yer knows. After all, me n Glob is froms the same twig.” Glob nodded his old head, recalling those innocent days so long ago.

When they were finally released into Goblindom, Glob took the path south to the southern oak woods, while Lim headed east towards the jagged range of mountains, known as the Widow Spires. Magical Goblindom always allows each new goblin younger one moon to find its true place within its boundaries, before it finally transforms them into one of three goblin types, plains, wood, or mountain.

Many times over the intervening summers Glob heard what he thought were far-fetched tales of Lim’s escapades. And so when Lim said he had just escaped from penal servitude, Glob finally realized the tales were true after all.

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

Lim seemingly ignored the angry outburst and gratefully accepted Make’s freshly filled spare pipe, lit it with a taper proffered by Mous and lay back for a moment, enjoying the comfort of Neo’s bed, and the sweet taste of the honeysuckle flavoured tobacco.

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

Mica and his portly friend Cantor were returning to the village from the south, where they had been trading with the next humin village. They had stopped to visit Neo’s mentor and great friend Grimefleet Binglenook, the last of the elder goblins. They both sat with him outside the door of his home on the largest bough of his oak tree. With his ornately carved snail shell ear-trumpet stuck in his relatively good ear, Bingle listened to Mica’s news.

Because of the ancient goblin’s increasing deafness Mica found he had to speak directly into the ear-trumpet. Cantor took advantage of the moment, quietly eating the last of the food his wife had packed for the trip, while Mica and Bingle talked in the warmth of the morning sun.

From somewhere close by, a chilling howl made their hair stand on end. Mica motioned to Cantor to climb higher while he scooped up the tiny ancient goblin in his arms and quickly followed. As they watched hidden from view by the old oak’s thick coat of leaves, they saw first one then a second timber wolf cautiously circle the oak’s great trunk, sniffing all the while.

Soon a well-muscled and unusually tall mountain goblin archer and three more wolves hove into view below. “Wot dids yer finds me lovelies?” Brag quietly asked as he surveyed the oak. He loved his wolf pack more than life itself. Each was like a son to him. His cruel black eyes spied Bingle’s front door. He quickly climbed up onto the bough and unshipped his powerful bow from across his broad back. Nocking an arrow, he entered the ancient goblin’s home before soon reappearing, scowling with disappointment. He quickly climbed down and re-joined his faithful wolves. “Nothing, he aint here me lovelies, don’t worry we’sll finds him soon enuff. Thens yer can tears him apart n fill yer bellies, after I’s has killed him slowly for murdering yer brother that is.” The five wolves all bared their fangs at the thought of sharing in Brag’s revenge for their dead sibling. The fearsome mountain goblin had not forgiven what Lim had done. When he had found the lifeless body of the youngest wolf, he slashed the palm of his hand with his sword, swearing a blood oath of revenge over the corpse. Now he was even more determined than ever to find his missing prisoner.

His wolves warily sniffed the air. They could smell goblin on the wind. But they could also smell humins too, which made them nervous. Brag began to walk in the direction of the humin village with his faithful wolves ranging all around him, searching for Lim’s scent amongst the rest.

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

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

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

Bejuss watched the unfolding scene below him from on high. After Cantor had reported Brag’s presence in the valley, Bejuss had been on his way to recruit his griffin friends Slyth and Garr for what would inevitably occur, when he spied a lone timber wolf descending from Cazophen’s cave, heading towards the goblin brother’s home.

He watched it deliberately circle through the woods, following Lim’s scent on the northern side of the humin village. The wolf briefly stopped beneath their oak, before heading off in search of the two other wolves that were sniffing the ground behind Miranda’s stable. They had been temporarily distracted from their task by the thought of a mouth-watering delicious four-legged meal, when they smelt the old mare and her foal.

Curious to see where they had come from, Bejuss descended silently. He perched in the branches of a tree, hidden from view above the cave. Peering intently through the foliage at the entrance, his one eye focused on Brag who was seated on a large stone with two timber wolves sitting on their haunches at his feet.

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

“Brag, Lim – who are they? Why are they here in our valley?” Mica whispered his enquiry, clearly puzzled, as he kept an eye on the cave entrance.

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

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

The old bird nodded his head. Quickly vanishing from view, he flew off. Once he had passed on Mica’s commands, he continued on his journey to fetch Slyth and Garr.

The agonised howls of the three dying timber wolves when they were slain by some of Mica’s humin warriors close to the goblin brother’s home brought Brag’s malevolent mind back to reality. While he awaited his wolves return, he had been day dreaming about just how he was first going to torture, then skin Lim alive.

His two remaining wolf sons ran beside him eager for revenge, as he sprinted down the wooded slope of the north-eastern side of the valley. Abandoning his normally cautious ways, Brag ran through the humin village in a blind rage, bow at the ready.

Mica’s friends, Verig, Jasper and Manx lay in wait, hidden behind the northernmost roundhouse, spears at the ready. Should Brag or either of his two remaining wolves get past them, Neo, Glob and Make were hiding behind an old tree stump in the northern meadow, between the village and their oak tree home. They were fully armed with their war clubs and razor-sharp blue metal goblin blades.

Inside the house Mous and Byz had barricaded the door with all of their furniture. Lim hid in a secret compartment in the largest cupboard the goblin brother’s possessed.

Cantor placed himself in front of the cupboard as the last line of defence, bitterly regretting his impetuous decision, and feeling decidedly uncomfortable inside the cramped confines of the tiny goblin home. He could neither stand nor crouch, so he had to kneel with his head bent sideways. He was armed with his spear and his razor-sharp flint bladed knife. Close at hand should he need it, was Neo’s second best war club.

On the spur of the moment he had decided to squeeze himself inside. Glob, Neo and Make had ably assisted by pushing him from behind, while Mous, Byz and Lim pulled on his arms from inside their home after he had temporarily got stuck in the tiny doorway, due to his fat belly. Neo had suggested that they leave him wedged in the door. To the old curmudgeon’s way of thinking, what better way was there to stop Brag entering? All they had to do was defend the window.

Cantor took angry exception to the suggestion. Though his head and shoulders were inside the goblin brother’s home, he somehow detected where Neo was and lashed out with one foot, kicking the cross-eyed old curmudgeon where no goblin, or humin male for that matter, should ever be kicked. Neo bent double in extreme agony. The unbelievable pain emanating from his groin temporarily straightened his naturally crossed eyes. Intense white spots danced across his eyesight temporarily blinding him. Struggling for breath, the old curmudgeon quickly grunted his apology through gritted teeth.

After Cantor had finally got inside the goblin brother’s home, Neo tottered off and sat at the other end of the bough among the leaves, rocking back and forth, crying like a younger, while tenderly cradling the painfully bruised part of his anatomy for a considerable length of time.

Brag’s sharp eyesight detected movement on either side of him. The villagers were fast closing with him and his wolves. As he ran blindly forward, well-aimed spears quickly found their targets. Soon Brag stood alone.

He readied himself, arrow nocked. The taught string of his bow sang in the breeze as he fired wildly. If he was going to die, he would make sure he took as many as he could with him. Large shadows appeared on the ground where he stood as Slyth and Garr dived towards the mountain goblin archer. Within a few moments, Brag’s life ended when Garr ripped his head off his shoulders with one swift bite. As the mountain goblin’s headless body relaxed, his last arrow flew free, passing harmlessly through Slyth’s flight feathers.

Once the brief fight was over, his body and those of his wolves were unceremoniously dumped in the middle of Athol’s Pass as a warning to anyone else who thought of entering the peaceful valley with murder on their minds.

After Bingle had been retrieved from his hiding place and reinstalled on his rocking chair outside his door, Glob, his brothers and Bejuss had a pressing problem. The old goblin posed a question to Mica and his warriors. “Wots we’s goin ter do bout Cantor? He can’t get outs on our home. His fat belly won’t let him.” In the heat of the moment, extreme nervous tension had overcome the humin warrior while waiting for Brag’s assault making him hungry. As a consequence he had helped himself to their entire store of honeycomb, dried fish and mead.

Verig smirked and winked as he replied, “he’ll just have to be your guest for a while longer Glob; at least til he slims down that is. Meantime you and your brothers are welcome to stay with us.”

As Glob and Mica led the party of humin warriors, goblins and griffins back to the village where Agnitha, her daughter Ylesse, and the rest of the women were preparing a victory feast, the sound of raucous laughter echoed throughout the valley. Still nursing his painful groin, Neo smiled to himself at the thought of Cantor being trapped.

Bejuss perched on the window sill of their home, peering inside at the unfortunate Cantor, briefly wondering how long the humin would be there. Then, smelling the feast he flew off to the village. A bowl of juicy slugs, worms and snails awaited his attention.

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

The Time Before Map

😉

The Third Edition

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My old friend Globular Van der Graff

~~~

For those of you who have been reading, and hopefully enjoying, the timeless tales I have been selecting from Glob’s anthology I have some welcome news.

For a long time now I have been meaning to create a paperback version of Goblin Tales for the few stick in the muds who still prefer a physical book, particularly those of you living here in the UK where the preference for paper still persists more so than anywhere else.

Well, you’re in luck. I’ve temporarily put aside my current book research project to begin preparing the tales to do just that.

Will the 3rd edition exclude ‘Goblin Speak‘ for those who place it in the too hard basket? Absolutely not! I promised Glob that I would leave any and all conversations involving him, Bejuss, Neo, Byz, Make and Mous in their own vernacular. Neither will I dumb it down from British English. This is an anthology set in ancient Britain, not North America. Nor will I change the way the lads behave simply to conform to the commonly held misconception that all goblins are bad!

~~~

To remind all of you, here is the description of all five goblin brothers and Bejuss. The more observant among you will see slight differences from the original:

All southern wood goblins have green leathery skin of differing hues to blend in with their surroundings and are very short in stature – normally no more than three feet tall. Their ears are pointed and broad. Their mouths contain sharp pointed teeth. They all wear felt jerkins, and willow bark boots stuffed with dry grass for warmth. In winter they wear squirrel fur mittens to keep their bony hands warm. Their eyes are normally chestnut brown. But when enraged, they turn blood red. None of them look old, despite their great age.

Glob is the oldest of the goblin brothers and their leader. He is slim, long suffering, dependable and worldly wise. His favourite pastime is fishing.

Byz is the youngest at barely five hundred summers, and the skinniest. Put simply he is a gentle idiot. His face has that look all simpletons have. He is apt to wander off if not tethered to his bed or to one or other of his brothers. Easily distracted, Byz plays beautiful music on his reed pipes and loves playing with spiders and all other kinds of creepy crawlies under his bed.

Mous is the accident prone member of the household and plump due to his love of honeycomb. His speech impediment forces him to substitute z for s when he speaks. Prone to sulking, he is the unofficial cook in the household. He often has bitter arguments with his best friend Make.

Make is the pipe smoking, laid back, fat and jolly member of the household. Normally content with his lot, not much fazes him. Make loves honeysuckle flavoured tobacco. His most prized possession is his briar pipe, or as he refers to it, his bestest briar pipe. Often, despite Mous being his best friend in the whole world, and often the butt of his jokes, from time to time he does accuse poor Mous of stealing his possessions when he mislays them.

Neo is the upright, no nonsense member of the household with a tendency to explode when angered, who does not tolerate foolish behaviour. Severely cross eyed, extremely bad tempered, and wiry, he makes an excellent mead and is responsible for manufacturing their willow bark boots, neatly sewing them together using a bodkin, and thread made from the best spider silk, despite his crossed eyes. When the chips are down, Neo is the one who will always guard your back. While he barely tolerates most kinds, he absolutely loves the old mare Miranda and the humin child Ylesse.

Bejuss is a one eyed, battle scarred, old lisping raven with a twisted beak and tatty feathers, who is absolutely devoted to Glob. His favourite pastime is pecking simple minded Byz who he can barely tolerate. His beak is partially twisted, resembling an old piece of rope. It happened when his mother accidentally stood on him just after he hatched from his egg. He later lost one eye on a twig sticking out of the inside of the nest, during a scrap for food with his brothers and sisters when he was a chick.

~~~

The Time Before Map

Here is the introduction:

For far too long in my humble opinion, your average southern wood goblin, or any goblin come to that, has been much maligned. Far from being the loathsome evil creatures portrayed in fairy tales by human authors like the Grimm brothers to frighten children in centuries past, with one or two exceptions they are entirely friendly. I have got to know the author of these tales – Globular Van der Graff, or Glob as he likes to be called, really well. I am of the firm belief that on the whole they are entirely misunderstood creatures.

In a time long past before humans began inhabiting the world; there was a magical land hidden away from prying eyes in the northern hemisphere. It was called Goblindom. It remained hidden behind a magical barrier when humanity first appeared. In those early times Goblindom fought the humans and won. But as the ranks of humans inevitably increased in number, and began to destroy every living thing they deemed inferior, Goblindom’s inhabitants retreated behind their magical barrier to prevent any further contact.

One of Goblindom’s kinds, the humins, who were the predecessors of humanity, treated all goblins abominably when they first discovered each other, two thousand summers before this anthology begins. But after that unfortunate meeting, both lived side by side in peace ever afterwards, keeping a weather eye on the warlike cousins of the humins living beyond the barrier.

The five wood goblins I met one day several years ago in a glade not far from here in the English county of Suffolk, when I was having a snooze in the afternoon sunshine, have existed till now, hidden away from humanity since those days thousands of years ago. They are Globular Van der Graff (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo). They continue to inhabit the most remote forests living side by side with all other woodland inhabitants, hiding away from my kind humanity.

These friendly little beings seem to have taken over my life in one way or another. At their insistence I began to write down what Glob dictated to me. He would often wake me in the dead of night by standing on my chest, raring to tell me of yet another adventure or some mishap or other that had befallen him or one of his brothers. Why he chose me for the task of translating and recording his tales, I still don’t know. Needless to say I am honoured to do so. It is not every day that a lowly human is given such an opportunity.

I have created for you an eyewitness history of their world which they shared with our forebears the humins, along with wizards of both black and white persuasions, griffins, wyverns, mountain gremlins, ogre’s, elves, trolls, dragons, the odd witch or two and an assorted collection of animals and birds. Among the many you will meet as you read Glob’s tales, is a singularly engaging character, a one eyed lisping raven named Bejuss.

At Glob’s insistence I have also left the conversations between the characters in their own peculiar ancient vernacular rather than modern day English. When Goblindom existed all the many kinds who lived within its borders spoke the same language.

This anthology is a snapshot of their lives, adventures and misadventures. I hope that when you read it, you will look kindly on these tiny woodland individuals in the future, should they choose to visit you.

~~~

PS – while there will be no individual illustrations for each tale, there will be a family portrait, thanks to my good friend Duncan Niall Boswell pictured below agreeing to give it a go after I had suggested it to him. Duncan is the one responsible for the fantastic Goblindom map above.

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PPS – currently the word count stands at 84,782. It should pass 85,000 and beyond before much longer…

More later…

😀

A Timeless Tale

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The Wrong Medicine

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), and Bejuss, the lisping raven with the twisted beak, encounter an unwelcome side effect of goblin medicine.

The goblin brother’s household were all feeling the effects of winter as chill winds from the north signalled that its icy fingers were taking hold. Neo was laid up in bed, shivering and sneezing with a heavy cold. Make’s nose was all bunged up. Mous’s eyes and nose were streaming constantly. Glob had chronic earache and Bejuss’ feathers had lost their sheen as he coughed and sneezed constantly. The worst afflicted was simpleminded Byz. He had all the symptoms of the dreaded hack, a potentially fatal winter affliction peculiar to goblins.

The hack is not a simple coughing fit brought on by a sore throat or common cold, it is far, far worse. Depending on the health of the sufferer, if the patient is given the wrong kind of medicine, severe, sometimes fatal, complications can occur.

Poor Byz lay in his bed in great discomfort. Glob sat beside him feeding him weak mushroom soup by the spoonful.

Bejuss was perched on Glob’s shoulder, sneezing loudly. “Achoo! Rarrk – me nearly thneezed me brain’th out, beg’th pardon Glob,” the old bird apologised, after spraying his friend’s ear with birdy snot, which he tried to wipe clean with his wing. He watched Glob feed Byz. He wasn’t going to admit it, but he actually felt sorry for the youngest goblin brother.

Neo sneezed, cursed, broke wind violently, and threw off his thick cobweb blankets as his temperature rose, making him sweat profusely. Despite shivering from his high fever, Mous sat so close to the fire that his jerkin started to singe. Make’s dry hacking cough made his face change colour and his eyes bulge. The honeysuckle flavoured smoke from his bestest briar pipe burned his already inflamed throat, making him feel worse.

Byz in his severely weakened state tried desperately to sit up. Each time Glob offered him another spoonful of soup, the hack caused him to shake so violently that several times he had knocked the spoon from Glob’s hand spilling it all over himself, Glob, and his bed.

A loud knock on the door interrupted their misery. Make went to see who it was. When he opened the door, no one was there. He began muttering under his breath about, “Subwun’s dakin diabolical liberdies wiv sick folk!” when he saw a small package had been left beside the doorstep. He picked it up before rapidly shutting the door to keep out the cold.

“Who was it?” Glob casually enquired as he wiped spilled mushroom soup from his lap.

“Tweren’t nobody dere,” Make replied grumpily, sniffing loudly to clear his nose while looking at the package. “Foud dis by de door,” he added as his blocked nose continued to affect his speech. Sneezing loudly he handed the package to Glob, before joining Mous beside the fire. Both goblins shivered constantly, even though wisps of steam rose from their fevered bodies.

Glob stopped trying to feed Byz and took the package over to his chair by the window to examine it. Despite feeling terrible, Bejuss perched on the back of Glob’s chair, curious to know what it contained. “Rarrk, ith yer goin ter open it then – achoo?” the old bird sneezed his question, wiping his beak with his wing. Glob turned the package over to see if it had anything written on it. He carefully opened it and peered nervously inside. There was a small sealed bottle along with a note. Glob studied the note very carefully.

“Ter whom it may concern,

Here is sum medicine ter relieve yer winter ailments. Add no more than wun drop ter a mug on mulled mead ter relieve all the symptoms on goblin hack, colds, coughs, sore throats n blocked noses at this time on year.

Get well soon.”

Glob put down the note and carefully uncorked the mysterious jar. The foul odour made his eyes water as he gingerly sniffed it. He dipped his finger into the jar’s neck and licked the concoction with the tip of his tongue, grimacing at its foul taste. Then his old face lit up when he finally recognised what it was. “Some kind soul has jus gorn n left us a jars on snifflebain jelly. Make go n gets the mugs n the barrel on mead. Mous sticks the poker in the fire – quick sharp now.” As Mous plunged the red hot poker into each mug of mead, Glob carefully put one drop of the runny jelly into each hot drink, then passed them to his brothers.

Bejuss watched as the goblins miraculously began to get better before his eye. “Me want thome, me want thome!” he loudly demanded, jumping up and down, pecking at the jar to get Glob’s attention.

Glob shook his head. “I’s sorry Bejuss lad, but snifflebain is goblin medicine, taint for birdies. It’s cud be poison ter the likes on yer. I’ll go n gets some hawthorn berries n crab apples soon ter makes yer own special medicine once I’s feelin better.”

Bejuss flew up to the rafters in utter disgust, sulking and muttering loudly that, “all goblinth ith thelfithh – achoo!”

By mid-afternoon, the five goblin brothers were once again hale and hearty and had left their home to gather acorns, honeycomb and toadstools to stock their larder for winter. Relieved that they were feeling much better, they had all completely forgotten that Bejuss was still ailing. Plus, never once did any of them wonder who their mysterious angel of mercy may have been.

When they departed, Bejuss flew down to the table where the medicine bottle sat. He peered and pecked at it while walking around it. He pushed it, tipping it over. The bottle rolled across the table and fell to the floor, smashing to pieces. Its contents settled in a sticky puddle on the floor, giving off a strange green haze.

He flew down to the floor and hopped over to the puddle, cautiously smelling it. “Rarrk – it thmellth dithguthtin!” he lisped, as the foul aroma filled his nostrils. He carefully tasted it with his tongue. “Tatht’th nathty too, but it made Glob n the retht better, tho why not me?”

Covering his nostrils with one wing to keep out the smell, the old bird began to lick greedily at the spilled medicine. Because of the way he hungrily consumed the sticky substance, inevitably he got the hiccups. But these were no ordinary hiccups. Each time they happened, a tiny green cloud escaped from his beak. As his hiccups increased in intensity, the cloud grew larger and darker in colour.

Neo had gone to see Miranda, tired of looking for honeycomb. As he approached the stable, he broke wind violently and vanished from view in a thick green cloud.

Glob sat talking with his humin friends, Mica and Agnitha, while their little girl Ylesse, who by now was toddling on shaky legs, played with a ball of twine. A cry of alarm from somewhere outside made them all quickly run to see what was wrong.

Mica’s fellow villagers stood transfixed. They watched a giant muscular green goblin with a large double-headed axe chase after an equally large half goblin, half rabbit with large furry ears and long whiskers sticking out of its long pointed nose, intent on doing it harm. Then from the southern pasture yet another very large fierce looking mountain goblin warrior with a pig-like snout, carrying a shield across his back and swinging a large spiked mace, closed ready to do battle with the other two. A fourth equally large goblin emerged from the tree line and strode towards where the villagers stood, sat down heavily with such force that he made everyone feel unsteady on their feet, and started furiously sucking his thumb.

Despite being terrified, Glob thought he recognised the monstrous assembly. He walked over to the giant thumb sucking goblin. “Byz lad, wots wrong then?” The giant pouted and looked at him before beginning to cry. He sneezed and burped loudly releasing a green cloud, and reverted back to his normal self.

“What’s going on Glob,” Mica whispered quietly as he carefully approached.

“They is all me brothers Mica. Someone left some medicine by our door this mornin. We wos all sufferin from aches n pains, coughs n colds.  I’s gaves all me brothers some in a mug on mulled mead n theys all gots better. I’s didn’t takes any meself, jus stuck some in me ear, n me earache vanished!”

The giant with the axe was about to behead the goblin rabbit, when he suddenly froze, sneezed a green cloud and shrank back to his normal size, crossing his eyes constantly. The goblin rabbit hopped away terrified, disappearing behind one of the roundhouses.

“Wots wrong wiv us Glob?” Neo asked with a perplexed look on his face, dazed by the transformation, still burping and breaking wind and giving off yet more green clouds as the effects of the medicine slowly dissipated.

The former mountain goblin warrior with the mace answered as he reached inside his jerkin for his bestest briar pipe. “I’s knew there wos summink spicious bout that parcel Glob – achoo!”

“Bless you Make,” Agnitha replied, offering him a rag to wipe his nose. Ylesse suddenly burst into tears behind them. When they all turned round they saw her having a tug of war with the goblin rabbit who was trying hard to steal her ball of twine.

“Eponymous Tringthicky – give it back to my Ylesse this instant do you hear, or else I swear I’ll slap your legs!” Agnitha shouted angrily, scolding the accident prone goblin, while scooping up her tearful baby daughter.

The goblin rabbit hung its head in shame, twitching its nose. “I’z zorry Agnitha, zorry Ylezze, I’z juz wanted ter play wiv it,” he said, quickly handing the twine ball back to Ylesse who pouted angrily at him before sticking out her tongue. Mous began to hop off in the direction of their oak tree home, tripped on a rock and fell over, knocking the wind out of himself. With one loud green burp he was finally back to normal.

Glob rounded up his still sneezing brothers and tied them together before he marched them home in disgrace. Once he had sent them all to their beds, after dosing them up with proper snifflebain jelly, he finally relaxed on his chair by the window.

Then out of the corner of his eye he spied the broken bottle and the puddle of spilled medicine. Glob panicked. He hunted high and low in his search for Bejuss. If the medicine had turned his brothers into gigantic ferocious goblins, what might it have done to a raven?

While everyone had been distracted, a furtive figure made its way from shadow to shadow, silently entering each of the roundhouses, stealing what took its fancy, before disappearing once more.

Fleetwood congratulated himself on his brilliant ruse. He sat inside the cave above the valley checking his loot. His face broke out into a broad grin. “Hee hee – stupid humins is fooled so easy,” he chortled to himself, studying Agnitha’s beautiful Jet necklace. His ‘medicine’ had been a total success. Using snifflebain jelly to disguise his transformation potion was a stroke of pure genius.

Dark descended on the valley. The humins by now realised they had been robbed of their most precious possessions. An angry mob led by Mica went to the goblin brother’s oak tree home. “Glob, get out here now!” Mica demanded loudly, illuminated by the burning torches of his angry fellow villagers.

Glob nervously opened the door. He had never seen his humin friend like this before, clearly ready to do harm. The sight of a dozen armed humins determined for revenge unnerved him. “Wots wrong Mica me lad?” Glob nervously enquired, feeling the mood of the humins in his bones.

“While we were all being distracted by you and your brothers, we were being robbed. My Agnitha has lost her necklace. Brion’s wife has lost her mother’s broach. Everyone has had something of value stolen. We don’t want you and your brothers Glob, we want Bejuss. Everyone knows that next to a thieving magpie, a raven likes collecting shiny things. He’s the guilty party here!”

Glob’s mind spun. He could not believe the old bird was a thief, and yet… “I’s always thought that were only magpie’s like yer says. Tenerate, he aint here Mica lad; truth is I’s don’t know where he is. This mornin we wos all feelin horrible wiv coughs n colds. I’s tolds yer bout someone leavin us some medicine ter cure our winter ills; we’s all tooks some n began feelin better – Bejuss wos ill too. I’s forgots ter makes him some birdy medicine. When we’s got back, I’s saw the broke medicine bottle on the floor. Bejuss mus ave taken some n vanished into thin air!”

From high above the real thief’s every movement was being closely shadowed unseen as he returned home with his spoils. Bejuss silently followed Fleetwood through the woods to his hideaway. The crafty wood goblin sat down and began sorting his loot.

“Give it back, give it all back.” A ghostly voice insisted.

Fleetwood leapt up and looked all around him. “Who saids that, shows yerself,” he demanded, nervously brandishing his goblin blade while turning his head left and right, searching for the voice’s owner.

“Give it all back Fleetwood Cranberry, or me’ll turn yer into a thtone or a frog!” Bejuss replied, trying hard not to laugh. He was thoroughly enjoying being invisible.

“Goes away ghosty, please goes away,” Fleetwood bleated, now completely terrified by his unwelcome ethereal visitor.

“Give it all back now!” Bejuss demanded; causing the dust to rise by silently flapping his wings, unseen by Fleetwood. Next, he flew to the fireplace and blew hard, making the low flames erupt into life. Then he opened the goblin thief’s cupboard and threw all of its contents onto the floor.

Fleetwood’s eyes stared in sheer terror as everything he possessed flew about the room. He screamed and cowered in fear among the debris on the floor. “Donts hurts me ghosty, I’s learned me lesson I’s promises,” the frightened thief squealed.

“Gather everythin tergether n take it back ter the humin’th village now Fleetwood Cranberry afore me turnth yer inter a juicy thlug n eatth yer – now be gone wiv yer!”

Bejuss silently followed him back to the village and watched as he returned each item. “Never ever return ter thith valley Fleetwood Cranberry, on pain on death!” Bejuss said finally from somewhere close to the thief’s ear. Fleetwood ran off terrified into the night, white as a ghost, never to be seen again.

Glob sat at the window unable to sleep, worried sick for Bejuss.  He felt a gentle breeze on his face. “Rarrk – me back Glob, n tho ith the humin’th pretty thtuff,” the old bird lisped, perching on the old goblin’s shoulder. Glob nearly had a heart attack when Bejuss magically reappeared. “W-w-what d’yer mean?” he managed to stammer.

“Rarrk – it woth Fleetwood wot gave yer the medicine ter make yer all inter monthterth n fool the huminth while he thtole from them. Me followed him all day. The medicine made me invithible – look.” Glob’s eyes widened when Bejuss disappeared then reappeared before his eyes. The old bird chuckled at the expression on his friend’s face. “Me thcared him tho much, he thought me wath a ghotht come ter haunt him. Me told him me’d turn him into a thlug n eat him if he didn’t return all he thole n never come back.”

Glob smiled happily to himself, glad that his feathered friend was alive and not the thief after all. He gave Bejuss a well-earned bowl full of juicy slugs before they both turned in for the night.

Unlike the goblin brothers, Bejuss was permanently changed by the medicine. Being invisible would prove to be an added benefit for the lisping one-eyed old raven with the twisted beak in the future.

The Time Before Map

Part Two of Beware On Crellan’s Mine

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 Glob’s beautiful friend Lox, the leader of the Elves

~~~

Beware on Crellan’s Mine

Part 2

It’s A Case of Balance, Do You See

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), and curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), together with Bejuss, the one-eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, and their friends and allies, head towards Crellan’s mine to rescue its slave workers.

Morweth ended a heated argument over what they would do with the black wizard Crellan when they finally caught up with him. This was the time for wisdom, magic and cunning, not revenge.

“No, no, no, Crellan must not die! Goblindom exists because it is in equilibrium. Life and death, growth and decay, summer and winter, and in magic’s case, good and evil. All contribute to keeping us hidden from prying eyes. Should any of these elements necessary to our existence cease to be, the magic barrier will simply dissolve, and our part of the world will be quickly overrun by the hated humans and end forever. If you will dear friends, Goblindom and everything in it will simply end for all time, soon to be forgotten. Our capability to live in peace together and converse with each other, be we witch or wizard, raven or eagle, humin or goblin, wyvern or griffin, ogre, troll, elf, mountain gremlin, even dragon, will also end. The human’s world beyond our barrier is in a state of chaos. The different kinds living in it cannot understand each other anymore. Consequently, they live in fear and kill rather than live side by side like us. Any mutual trust between all living things that they may have had is gone for all time. It’s a case of balance, do you see.”

“Then why’s is we goin ter his mine?” Nit enquired. Like the rest, he puzzled why they were heading east towards the Widow Spires and certain trouble, possibly even death, if not to end Crellan’s life.

“I’s can answers that Nit, if yer don’t minds me buttin in Morweth,” Glob interjected, in support of the white wizard, “we’s goin ter free the slaves if we’s can, n close the mine forever. Everyone knows taint natural, nor safe, ter dig big holes neath the ground. It coulds let danger from below enter Goblindom. I says beware on Crellan’s mine! Remembers wots almost gots out when we’s tried ter rescue Yathle’s cousin Ariadne.”

Those that had taken part in the abortive rescue attempt remembered the spine-chilling cry and the smell of brimstone, moments before the magic barrier closed behind them after they had reached the safety of this world, sealing off the one beneath their own.

“But what is Crellan up to?” Mica began, still not clear about the black wizard’s reason for needing so many jewels, “apart from looking pretty round a female’s neck, what possible purpose could Crellan have in mind for those coloured stones?”

“That my friend is what I wish to learn,” Morweth replied, like Mica he puzzled over what Crellan needed them for. For the moment the answer eluded him.

They had camped for the night at the head of a valley leading to the foothills of the Widow Spires beneath the easternmost edge of Goblindom’s thick oak woods. From now on they risked being seen by Crellan’s lookouts as they began following Brog. At long last he had seen the error of his ways after both Yathle and Slyth threatened to rip him apart with their powerful talons. Together with Nit, he would guide the army through the hills.

Bejuss sat on Slyth’s great armoured head quietly talking to him. “Rarrk – we need ter thee how far wetht Crellan’th lookoutth are,” he lisped, while preening his feathers in between catching passing moths in his twisted beak which were attracted by the campfire.

Slyth’s belly growled. He hadn’t eaten a goblin for days. Being surrounded by hundreds of his favourite snacks was driving him crazy. For a split second, he even contemplated flicking his head to dislodge his feathered friend and swallow him whole. Then overcome with deep shame, he quickly dismissed the idea. He had momentarily placed his desperate need to eat above his deep friendship with the old raven. “We should go ter Morweth n tell him we need ter fly east ter spy on them Bejuss,” Slyth sheepishly suggested, desperately hoping that the old bird had not sensed his brief moment of madness brought on by his extreme hunger.

Maybe they could kill two birds with one stone so to speak. He and his brother Garr could fill their bellies at the same time as determining Crellan’s defences. Within a few minutes with Morweth’s blessing, the two griffins and Bejuss together with Yathle and her squadron of wyverns were heading towards the Widow Spires.

“I’s feds up n hungry! Where’s our relief, Derr?”

“Shuddup n stops moanin, they’ll be here soon enuff,” Derr replied to his companion, Tan. They had been on watch since sunset, and now it was close to dawn. Below them, they had a clear view of the reception camp, the mine’s entrance, and the carts being loaded by slave labourers with the freshly mined jewels.

Derr’s eyes misted up. Great drops of saliva fell from his mouth at the thought of all those jewels below. “Taint fair. Whys don’t we steals sum for us?” Tan suggested in a hushed tone, briefly forgetting his hunger as the thought of owning the jewels below overtook him. “Shush brother, don’t even thinks on it, else Crellan will hears n kills us both,” Derr hissed, as an involuntary shiver ran down his spine. The thought of crossing the black wizard made his green goblin blood run cold.

Back in his laboratory, Crellan’s face broke out in a contemptuous sneer while he watched and listened to their conversation, thanks to his mercury filled crystal seeing bowl before he retired to bed. Ungrateful plains goblins like those two were easily replaced. Tomorrow things would be different. As it turned out it was a prophetic thought on his part. So far his stocks of emeralds were building up nicely. He only needed twenty more cartloads before he could finally begin the second phase of his plan. Half a moon’s more mining should suffice.

Bejuss perched on Morweth’s shoulder moments after he and Slyth, together with Garr, Yathle and her sisters returned. “Rarrk – there ith three wayth ter the mine Morweth; one ith directly ahead on uth ter the eatht, but it’th heavily guarded like the one ter the thouth. But the one ter the north hath only a few lookoutth; it leadth directly ter a bluff above the mine.”

Morweth nodded his thanks. “No matter which path we take, Crellan will see us approach via his crystal seeing bowl my friends,” the old wizard declared, deeply concerned for everyone’s safety. “Yathle, can you take Brilith and me to Crellan’s home? Between us, we can cast a spell of invisibility to prevent us being observed by any of his minions along the way. But if he is still awake, whether it will fool him I simply don’t know. We have to get inside undetected to counter his magic. Perhaps we may even learn of his intent.”

Yathle fixed the old wizard with her golden eyes, gently smiled and nodded. Mica rose, and together with Lox, the leader of the elves, volunteered to accompany them. Morweth smiled and shook his head. “I thank you my friends, but no. You must lead the army to the mine. Bejuss will accompany us. If we are successful he will act as my messenger and fly back here to you. At that point, you will know it is safe to proceed. The battle for Crellan’s mine will be fierce my friends, make no mistake.”

Mica, Glob and the rest momentarily watched as Yathle rose into the sky with her two passengers with old Bejuss flying alongside before they all magically vanished from view. Now all Mica, Glob and the rest could do was wait.

Yathle landed silently on the roof of Crellan’s impregnable stone tower lair. Morweth motioned for both her and Bejuss to stay behind while he and Brilith stole silently down the tower’s winding stone steps leading to Crellan’s laboratory. As the pair approached the door still invisible, they came across two dozing mountain gremlin guards. Morweth turned them both to stone, after deftly relieving one of them of a set of keys. Brilith kept watch while the ancient wizard tried each key in the door. After they entered, Morweth quickly relocked the door behind them.

The first thing on his mind was to destroy the seeing bowl. Brilith stayed his hand. “Take it with us, it may prove useful later,” she whispered. Morweth handed it to her. After pouring the mercury into a stone flask, she quickly secreted both the flask and the crystal bowl into a large pocket inside her cape.

Next, they both turned their attention to destroying Crellan’s laboratory using their powerful magic to reduce everything to dust. Then they left the laboratory, locked the door, and between them, cast a spell. Briefly, they watched as the door transformed itself, becoming part of the wall, sealing the laboratory off forever. When Crellan woke, not only would the two guards be nothing more than stone statues, but the wall of his laboratory would be solid with no entrance.

Brilith led the way down to where the slaves delivered the emeralds each day. They stopped outside Crellan’s bed chamber. Morweth quickly and quietly turned the sleeping wizard’s door to stone, making it blend into the rest of the wall just like the door to his laboratory, sealing him in.

On entering the vast ground floor their breath was completely taken away. Neither of them had ever seen so many emeralds before in their long lives. But they were not the only jewels stored there. Huge mounds of rubies, diamonds, beryl, sapphires, onyx and topaz filled the rest of the chamber. While they briefly surveyed the scene the first two cartloads of emeralds for the day were being unloaded by goblin slaves urged on by the vicious whips of their guards.

Morweth’s blood ran cold. He finally understood what Crellan intended. Only one kind of creature coveted jewels like these in such vast quantities – black dragons!

The black wizard was gathering together enough jewels of all kinds from beneath the ground to raise an army of dragons to help him seize Goblindom for himself. Perhaps he even intended to raid the world of the humans beyond the magic barrier, thereby threatening the very existence of their hidden world in his desire to become its ruler!

Their objective had now changed. Everything here had to be destroyed. Taking the drastic decision, between them, they cast a spell of undoing. This time, the spell was different to the one cast by Morweth and Crellan when they destroyed the black dragon Kilycke’s nest, being wholly cast using white magic. As the spell slowly took effect, stone by stone, jewel by jewel, Morweth followed Brilith on the long climb back to the tower roof where Yathle and Bejuss waited patiently. When the black wizard eventually woke, he was in for a few unwelcome surprises.

Glob passed wind violently as he ate his breakfast of honeycomb, wild onion and dried fish. Moments later he almost soiled himself, very nearly jumping out of his skin when Bejuss landed unseen on his shoulder. “Rarrk – it’th time ter begin,” the old raven announced. By the time Yathle returned with Morweth and Brilith, the army was already on the march to the northern path with Mica and Lox at its head, all following Brog. At the base of the path, Morweth divided the army in two.

Taking Mica and his warriors together with Lox and some of her elven archers, accompanied by Slyth and Garr, Morweth and Brilith set off to the lookout post above the mine. Glob, Neo, Make, Mous, Nit and Byz were to follow Brog further north over a precipitous path. With luck, they would not be detected as they approached the mine from behind.

Derr and Tan’s lives savagely ended when Mica picked them up by the scruff of their scrawny necks and threw them to Slyth and Garr, who sliced them in two with their great beaks after the party had stealthily crept up on them from behind. At long last the two griffins had finally filled their complaining bellies. They both flew off to join Yathle’s squadron feeling renewed. Now they could enjoy themselves.

Yathle and her sisters began by delivering well-aimed fire balls, first at the remaining lookout posts, and then the groups of mine guards far below beyond the reception camp’s boundary fence. Slyth and Garr flew low and fast, crisscrossing the inside of the camp, decapitating guards and creating panic among the goblin slaves who hid completely terrified beneath the wooden carts used to carry the emeralds.

Morweth and Brilith took Derr and Tan’s place, protected by some of Lox’s archers and Mica’s band of warriors, quickly setting up the crystal seeing bowl to direct the attack. When Glob, Brog and the rest appeared from behind the mine, the battle was practically at an end.

All around them lay the broken bodies of the former guards, a mixture of plains and mountain goblins, ogres, trolls and mountain gremlins. Some had missing limbs, some no head. Still others slowly bled to death. Most were burnt to a crisp by the powerful fire balls delivered by Yathle and her sister wyverns.

By nightfall the mine had been taken. The rest of Lox’s elven archers had quickly dispatched the remaining few guards when they burst forth from inside the mine. Neo led a party deep underground to bring out the slaves. Once Morweth was certain that the mine was finally empty, he cast a spell which sealed it forevermore.

While the battle for Crellan’s mine raged below him, Bejuss circled overhead. Something in the distance caught his attention and he flew off to investigate.

Among the broken stones of Crellan’s ruined lair, the old bird’s one eye focused on a dirty bundle of clothing. Bejuss landed and hopped over to the writhing pile. A tiny helpless baby with rapidly reddening skin screamed when it saw him towering over it. The baby looked up at him with pursed lips and defiant, yet tearful eyes. Bejuss gently gathered together the clothing around the infant thinking it was cold then quickly flew back to Brilith. She soon returned astride Yathle’s back following the old bird.

Brilith instantly recognized the jagged birthmark on the baby’s badly sunburnt chest. The spell of undoing had done something completely unexpected. Crellan had suddenly woken up in great pain when strong sunlight struck him and began burning his exposed skin. In the distance, he could hear the sounds of battle going on. Why was he awake, it wasn’t dusk? What had happened to him? He lay in the rubble of his former home, thoroughly bewildered and covered in dust, unable to speak, stand or move. For the first time in his long life, he experienced real fear when the jet black raven suddenly appeared with its massive razor sharp twisted beak close to his face.

“So Crellan my lad, just wait until Morweth and the rest see what has happened to you,” she said laughing softly as she gently cradled the bad tempered infant black wizard in her arms.

Bejuss cocked his head, clearly still puzzled. He watched Crellan throw a tantrum. The black wizard stuck out his tongue and thrashed his chubby fists and legs in the air trying to hit Brilith. All he got for his petulant outburst was a smacked bottom which reduced him to tears, increasing his pain tenfold, much to Bejuss’ great delight. To add insult to injury, Yathle joined in Crellan’s humiliation by licking his sunburnt face with her long rough tongue, making him squirm even more, with a mixture of revulsion and great pain.

The black wizard would experience many more deeply humiliating incidents like this as he grew up for the second time. He would suffer Brilith’s no-nonsense attitude, and the inevitably painful chastisement administered by her for each transgression of her rules, many more times in the future. She was determined to change his ways. He tried to curse and blaspheme, but nothing came out of his mouth except screams, dribble and bubbles. The hidden world of Goblindom would be safe for a few more years now that it’s most dangerous son’s dark plans of domination had finally been ended.

Fortunately, the one thing the spell had not done was to wipe the vast knowledge of black magic from his mind. Thanks to this particular spell of undoing, Goblindom’s equilibrium had been maintained. White magic and black still existed.

The Time Before Map

See what happens to you when you have delusions of grandeur?

~~~

PS – Despite my offering Goblin Tales for free over a five day period which ended on Tuesday 29th March, only twenty-four of you took the opportunity to avail yourselves. Sad, very sad…

😉