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Here’s a WIP from NaNoWriMo 2017, currently titled King Under the Mountain. Set in Casper, Wyoming, in a world where goblins trade in magical goods with humans, traveling from their world to ours through stone circle gates. But if humans aren’t wary in their dealings with goblins, they can find themselves stolen away!

Stephanie and Alix, cousins, are biking home from a party, a bit drunk, and Stephanie vanishes in a ring of toadstools. Alix calls for the King Under the Mountain, and is allowed to try to bring Stephanie back, going through a gate with two guard goblins who then vanish. She has spent an uneventful day wandering the beach, fallen asleep, and woken the next day by an angry bird protecting a nest.




She stumbled farther away, backing up to keep an eye on the bird, which wheeled above her, still crying out in anger at her intrusion. Water splashed over her feet, cold against her ankles, and soaking into her shoes. Puzzled, she looked down, and realized rising waves nearly swallowed the long stretch of dry sand she’d slept on.

“How much higher does it go?”

The bird landed on the nest instead of attacking her further, though its dark eyes were fixed on her, red-orange bill parted, ready to scold her again.

She rubbed the mark it had left on her arm, studying the area, and finding a few pieces dried seaweed strewn around, a sign that the water would continue to rise at least several inches more.

Enough to swamp the nest, and wash away the eggs nestled in it.

“Not my problem,” Alix reminded herself, turning her body a little so she could watch where she was going, but still keep an eye on the protective, nesting bird.

Behind her, the bird’s rolling whistle wavered out, rising and falling mournfully.

“Not my problem,” Alix repeated, trying to convince herself, but she was already shrugging off her backpack, and hoisting it over her head one-handed as an impromptu shield.

*    *    *

I took inspiration from “The Ballad of Tam Lin,” and Christina Rosetti’s “Goblin Market.” The idea of people being stolen away, and a loved one journeying to get them back (though Tam Lin was stolen by the Queen of the fairies), and the bustling goblin markets with their dangerous fruit from Rosetti’s poem sparked this adventure. Alix and Stephanie are college freshman, 18 and 19 respectively, and cousins sharing a dorm room. They have just left an off-campus party where they did some drinking, and are biking back to the dorms in the evening.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

19 responses »

  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Something tells me she’s going to make the nest her problem.

  2. Ooh, I hope the bird understands what she’s trying to do. It seems to be more, peck first, ask questions later!

  3. Not her problem… yet? 😉

  4. Alexis Duran says:

    A true heroine would never abandon an animal in distress, IMHO. Glad to see she’s going to brave that beak.

  5. Awe, I’m so glad she’s going back. I was prepared to not like her. lol. But she appears to be begrudgingly redeeming herself. And this is something so many of us can relate to. Wishing we could be indifferent and take the easy way out, but we can’t.

  6. daryldevore says:

    She can keep repeating – not her problem – but I think reality is the opposite.

  7. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    I like how she keeps repeating “not my problem”. Trying to convince herself, but I don’t think she’ll succeed in leaving the situation behind without helping first. Fabulous snippet!

  8. naomi shaw says:

    I think she’ll take care of the nest. Great snippet

  9. An unexpected twist but I like it! Can’t wait to read more, really a good snippet.

  10. elainecsc2013 says:

    Oh I like her for trying to help. Maybe the bird will become an ally.

  11. Eden says:

    Trying to convince herself… but it’s clear even she knows better.

  12. Carrie-Anne says:

    I love how you write descriptions! I’m glad she’s going to save the nest.

  13. Now, it’s like it’s going to be her problem anyway. Birds can be so crazy attacking intruder though. I hope she doesn’t get hurt too bad.

  14. Hywela Lyn says:

    Seems like she’s trying to convince herself, but I reckon she’s going to help the bird and save the nest. Great visualisation in this snippet!

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