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)

Previously“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.”

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“The punishment for harming a tam is… severe,” Aengus said, after Nissa had been sitting in silence for a while, her knuckles white on the clay tea cup.

“We will not speak of those things,” she said, her tone like slamming shut a door, “The punishment for aiding a tam is less severe, however.”

“And I’m supposed to believe you’d risk it? For a stranger?”

“Now that we have seen you, we have to choose whether to help or not. If we turn our faces away… there are two hearts that we have failed, two deaths on our souls,” Nissa’s eyes glittered, though no tears fell.

Aengus reached over to squeeze her hand, and she clung to him for a moment, before swallowing hard, “On our word of honor, we offer no tricks.”

“On our honor,” Aengus murmured solemnly.

“If I don’t trust that your word matters, I don’t see how I can find my cousin in time,” Alix said, “I accept.”

*    *    *

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.

28 responses »

  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    From what I’ve seen, I tend to think they’re telling the truth . . . but I’m far from sure. Hope it isn’t a trick.

  2. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    I would tend to believe them at this point, too. I hope she made the right decision. Great snippet!

  3. Hopefully her trust won’t be misplaced…

  4. They do seem sincere, but they’re also delivering really bad news!

  5. Botanist says:

    That seems like a risky leap of faith, bu then again she maybe doesn’t have much choice.

    • Not a whole lot of choice–she doesn’t know where she’s going, or how long it will take. She’s also very low on food.
      Still having problems with your link, btw. :/

  6. Alix doesn’t have too many choices here but I’m still not too convinced by the sincerity of these characters. Which isn’t to say you don;t write them extremely well – it’s to say you’ve done such a good job of worldbuilding here I’m afraid to take anything at face value LOL!

  7. Alexis Duran says:

    Nissa’s emotional reaction makes me wonder what happened before. It feels ominous, which makes for great tension.

  8. Hywela Lyn says:

    Alix certainly doesn’t seem to have a lot of choice, but something about Nissa’s words that make her seem sincere. there is certainly something ominous in the air though, very gripping scene.

  9. I think they’re telling the truth. Gripping emotion in this scene.

  10. Jenna Jaxon says:

    I’m loving this story and the spin you’ve put on the Ballad of Tam Lin. Have you ever read a YA book called The Perilous Guard, that has a Tam Lin tale woven into the plot? I’ve loved it since I read it when I was a teen. I tend to think he’s telling the truth too, but I’m still leery of goblins. They have such a bad reputation.

  11. Karen Michelle Nutt says:

    I sure hope she can truly trust them. Doesn’t seem like she has much of a choice though.

  12. daryldevore says:

    I’m with everybody else – cant hey be trusted???
    Tweeted.

  13. Carrie-Anne says:

    I think she can trust them, though that’s still a very intense, difficult situation no matter what.

  14. Diane Burton says:

    I’d like to believe them. They seem sincere. But can she trust them? Guess we’ll just have to wait for the next snippet. Good job.

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