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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. 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)
Previously: 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.”
“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.