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 into the other world. On the second day, she is woken by an angry bird, and realizing it’s nest will be swamped by the tide, she moves it to a safe place, and then walks for a time.  The king under the mountain appears and offers her some food, and a change of clothes, and she washes up in a river before returning to speak to him.

PreviouslyShe 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.”


“You have the tools to survive another day in my kingdom, but I am here to ask if you’re sure you wish to do so,” the king said.

“I can’t give up and go home, I’ve just started!” Alix protested, even though her feet ached, the bird attack injuries throbbed, and her stomach cramped around the unexpected meal.

“In just a few hours you will have been here for two full days,” he said, offering an insincere smile, “a valiant effort, and the area is not without its dangers, as I am sure you have noticed.”

“What is in the water, anyway?” she asked, remembering the surge of a large shape from the waves, and the flash of long, curved teeth.

“Many things, much like your oceans,” he shrugged, “Though you likely saw a serpent. Our other large shore predator… well, let us simply say that sea dragons are extremely aggressive when it comes to unprepared beach-goers.”

“What—what qualifies as unprepared?”

“Small groups and a lack of ranged weaponry, if you’re dealing with dragons, usually.”

“So I could have gotten eaten by a dragon yesterday?” Alix squeaked, and he shrugged in response.

*    *    *

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.

22 responses »

  1. Jenna Jaxon says:

    Dang, it sounds like she was incredibly lucky not to have been a dragon snack! Hard decision–stay and find cousin or leave with your life. I’m betting she stays.

  2. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    So many dangers await her there. Sound like she’s lucky to have survived as long as she has. Though, I have a feeling she will go through much more before she finds her cousin. Great snippet! 🙂

    • It’s not as if there are people-eating dragons just everywhere… they’re big carnivores with big territories. But the kingdom under the mountain isn’t for the faint of heart!

  3. This world certainly has its perils! I admire her pluck and her luck so far. Can’t wait to see what happens next…great snippet.

  4. He just shrugged?! We’re talking about DRAGONS!! Hahaha

  5. Alexis Duran says:

    What you don’t know might eat you, eh? Nice of him to tell her after the fact.

  6. nancygideon says:

    Dragons!? Oh, boy, what next for our determined heroine? Enjoyed the scene and its visuals, Caitlin.

  7. See dragons and he just shrugs. Makes me wonder what other creatures are out there that would make him worried.

  8. Hywela Lyn says:

    So many unknown dangers in this world, I think she’s going to need all her courage and ingenuity to survive!

  9. Ed Hoornaert says:

    I’m kind of hoping this passage is foreshadowing and at some point she does indeed have to face a dragaon.

  10. Diane Burton says:

    After all that and she’s willing to stay? Strong heroine.

  11. Sue Barr says:

    “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

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