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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 into the other world. I’ve skipped to day 3, where Alix has seen a cart approaching her on a road. (Day 2 had a bird’s nest rescue, and a run in with some disturbing goblins) (There are three races of goblins: hobs, erlkings, and kibi)

Previously: “Come with us,” the purple-eyed erlking held out his hand invitingly, taking a step toward her, while the black haired hob shifted to the side, flanking her. Behind them, the other goblins began to spread out as well.

Spooked, Alix whirled around and ran, scrambling up the dune, then down the other side, pushing herself as fast as she could, until her heart felt like it might explode out of her throat.

Laughter sounded behind her, and pursuing footsteps.

“Don’t be scared, little tam!” a male voice called.

More laughter, sharp and mocking.

Alix raced on, feet thudding against the ground, heading inland, dodging fallen branches and roots until the sounds of pursuit faded. She kept running, hoping she could stop before she collapsed, until finally the noises vanished.

Panting, she bent over, hands on her knees, and tried to catch her breath.

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The cart stopped in front of Alix, and the two goblins, a female hob and a male erlking, stared at her for a moment, then carried on a whispered conversation in a goblin language. Though she couldn’t understand a word, Alix knew that the man was arguing for something, and the woman disagreeing. But when the man finally won, and the woman sighed, deflating, she was the one who turned to Alix with a small, pained smile.

“You’re still quite far from your destination, tam. We can take you part of the way, but we cannot be caught aiding you. The others look poorly upon such behavior.”

“Then why would you risk it?” Alix asked, suspicious, especially since the woman had clearly not wanted to help.

“My name is Nissa, human,” the hob said instead of answering, her white eyes, pale skin, and corn silk blonde hair giving her a ghostly appearance, especially as she stared Alix directly in the eyes for an unnerving length of time.

After a minute, Alix realized both that she wasn’t getting an answer, at that the goblin was waiting for her name in return, “Alix.”

*    *    *

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 left an off-campus party where they did some drinking, and while biking back to the dorms, Stephanie steps into a fairy circle and is taken to the kingdom under the mountain, where she will stay forever as a goblin unless rescued.

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.

27 responses »

  1. Guess she needs to take help where she can get it, reluctant though it may be.

  2. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    Hmm, I wonder if they’re really willing to help or plan to take her farther away. Very intriguing! 🙂

  3. Interesting! Without knowing their language, you’ve made it clear the gist of what was said. Nicely done!

  4. An interesting mix in the snippet, of suspicious behavior and seemingly helpful! Not sure it’s so wise for Alix to be exchanging names…but I guess we’ll see. A really intriguing story, enjoyed the excerpt!

  5. daryldevore says:

    Not knowing the social rules of other cultures can be frustrating – glad she caught her faux pas. Tweeted.

  6. Wonder what their motivations are…

  7. Botanist says:

    Sounds like everyone she comes across has hidden motives. Suspicion and caution are probably advised!

  8. Ed Hoornaert says:

    I’m not sure I trust either of these two, but I also don’t know what better alternatives she has.

  9. Diane Burton says:

    She needs help. Those 3 are there, seemingly willing to help. But, at what cost? I had the same thought as Veronica–should she have given her name? Great snippet, full of suspicion.

  10. Hywela Lyn says:

    I’m with Ed – I don’t think I’d trust them either, but she doesn’t have much of a choice.

  11. Carrie-Anne says:

    I’d find that encounter rather unnerving, and proceed with caution.

  12. elainecsc2013 says:

    This is a time to take a risk for sure.

  13. Alexis Duran says:

    Makes me wonder what the goblins know about her, and why they would help. Interesting and unexpected twist.

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