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. Day 3, Alix has seen a cart approaching her on a road, with a male and female goblin, who stop and offer her help. (There are three races of goblins: hobs, erlkings, and kibi)

PreviouslyThe 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.”

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“Neither Aengus, nor I are teinds, but we knew one, when we were children,” Nissa said, “He was very unhappy with his fate, and never accepted it. In a few short years, he chose to cross into the land of endless night. If you are here to attempt a rescue, it is unlikely your teind will be happy here–none with strong ties are.”

“What is a teind?” Alix asked, processing that this woman was talking about a child committing suicide after they became a goblin.

“If you would like to sit, and take refreshment, we would be happy to explain,” Nissa said, after a glance at her husband, who’d offered an encouraging smile.

They formed a picnic on the side of the road, the mule turned loose to graze, and Aengus made them all tea.

“Teinds are tithes,” Nissa said abruptly, staring down into her tea cup, “which you humans pay, in return for our magic.  Tamlanes try to take back a tithe, but you do not often succeed. We are meant to hinder your rescue attempts, but never to harm you.”

*    *    *

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.

17 responses »

  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    I’m glad Alix asked what a teind was, because I thought I’d missed something. Apparently not.

  2. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    And are they hindering her rescue attempt right now?? Very intriguing! 🙂

  3. Well that’s certainly an interesting twist on things all right! Really enjoying the story and this was another intriguing excerpt.

  4. Very interesting concept!

  5. Botanist says:

    Hmm, so is stopping for a picnic helping or hindering? Interesting ideas here.

  6. Hywela Lyn says:

    Intriguing snippet, I’m still not sure about Nissa though.I’d be very unsure about trusting these two too far.

  7. Diane Burton says:

    You handled the unusual word “tiend” well, instead of an info dump. Good job.

  8. Carrie-Anne says:

    This is getting more and more intriguing!

  9. Sue Barr says:

    Not sure which one is ‘on’ her side, if any. Nicely done, Caitlin

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