This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

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 which she realizes will be swamped by the tide.

Previously: 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.

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She scurried toward the nest, hunched over to protect her face, and scooped up the nest in her free hand with hurried caution. Her approach set the sea bird off again, its cries echoing harshly as it dove at her, scoring a few more pecks on her shoulders, and painful blows from its gray wings.

“Dang it, stop! I’m helping you!” She set the nest down well clear of the highest piece of seaweed and faintly rippled sand, and beat a hasty retreat.

When she glanced over her shoulder, the ungrateful bird had returned to the nest, frantically rearranging the pieces of dried grass and twigs with its beak. “You’re welcome!”

The bird swiveled its black capped head toward her, and let out another piercing whistle.

“Talking to birds,” Alix muttered, “I’m gross and dirty, and talking to animals. This is like a terrible children’s movie.”

*    *    *

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.

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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.

24 responses »

  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Instead of a save-the-cat moment, you have a save-the-bird moment. Works for me!

  2. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    LOL She made it her problem. Hopefully that action will help her later in her quest.

  3. Good of her to make so much effort for the ungrateful bird! It’ll be interesting to see what results there’ll be from her kindness later in the plot. Great snippet!

  4. daryldevore says:

    I’d have done the exact same thing – and probably gotten the same response. lol
    Tweeted.

  5. Her adventure has started, but probably not at all how she pictured it.

  6. Haha I love that last paragraph!

  7. Botanist says:

    Hmmm, I have a feeling this act of kindness will become significant later on.

  8. Hywela Lyn says:

    So glad she helped the bird save its eggs, even if didn’t seem grateful. Like Botanist I have a feeling she may be very glad she showed such compasion, at a later stage!

  9. Carrie-Anne says:

    Some birds have come to humans when they need emergency help for their young, and led them to the baby after getting attention. This bird is quite the opposite!

  10. lol, Terrible children’s movie, indeed. But I am so glad she saved the ungrateful thing’s nest. 🙂

  11. julieevelynjoyce says:

    I am terrified of birds, so she’s a helluva lot braver than I would be! Very nicely described!

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