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 4: Alix reaches a set of standing stones, and the king of goblins appears to offer her advice.

Previously“Once you step through a door, your options—and your likely difficulties—have shifted drastically,” the king said. “But I can show you the gate that will take home.”

“No,” Alix said, then hastily added, “thanks.”

He smirked, letting her know he’d noticed the pause, but didn’t say anything.

“I’ll rescue Steph in record time,” Alix squared her shoulders, and drew in a deep breath, trying to will the determination and confidence she didn’t quite feel into her face.

“Very well. If you survive your journey, remember that you can call on me, and I may be able to come and fetch you home,” he reminded her, and vanished as soon as the last word left his mouth.

“Yeah, yeah, helpful, your highness,” she groused, staring at the stones and resisting the urge to kick the closest one, as her day would not be improved by a broken toe.

Slowly, she made another circle, staring up at the markings etched into each lintel stone.



“Well, where’s my clue?” Alix asked the sky.

A piercing cry, a rolling ‘keer-reet,’ split the air in response.

Alix searched the horizon, and soon she spotted a familiar gray and white bird winging above the trees. It wheeled, circling, and then swooped down, landing on the lintel of a stone two doorways down from where she sat.

“What are you doing all the way out here?”

It squawked at her in response, beady black eyes fixed on her, wings spread like a dark omen, and stayed on its perch.

“If you’re trying to communicate with me, bird, I don’t know what you’re trying to say.”

It made that rolling, whistling cry again and again, filling the air with noise, otherwise unmoving.

Alix stood, and walked toward the bird.

It fell silent.

*    *    *

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.

34 responses »

  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    FYI, your snippet for today reads suspiciously like last week’s. 😉


  2. We are detectives in real life. I recall such a story Always delightful, Caitlin.

  3. Author Jessica E. Subject says:

    I wonder if she’ll be able to figure out this clue. Nice snippet!

  4. Interesting development with the arrival of the bird. I wonder how and if the bird will supply a clue. Enjoying the story – great snippet!

  5. Botanist says:

    The choices seem to be, either it’s trying to point the way, or it simply landed on a random stone. I wonder what she’ll do?

  6. Alexis Duran says:

    In a magical goblin world, you can’t risk ignoring any creature. I’m guessing it’s trying to show her the way. Or warn her off? Oh, darn those pesky magical riddles.

  7. Frank Fisher says:

    That bird must have an important message. I hope Alix manages to decipher it. Good snippet!

  8. Hywela Lyn says:

    I wonder what it’s trying to tell her, I doubt if its just an ordinary bird!

  9. Hmmm, wonder if the bird is telling her to come this way, or don’t come to this door? 🙂

  10. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Well, that reaction of the bird’s is different. Usually they’d just fly away. I think she’s about to get her clue.

  11. I started reading this because I loved Goblin Market when I read it. And I love that you are taking it and making it your own. I hope the bird is pointing to the right direction and not just broken! I can’t wait to read more.

  12. Hm, I wonder what that bird will do…

  13. Hope that bird will provide some guidance since no one else will!

  14. Carrie-Anne says:

    I’m also wondering what the bird’s next action will be, and if she can figure out what it’s trying to tell her.

  15. Karen Michelle Nutt says:

    I’m curious to know how she’ll figure out the clue.

  16. rosgemmell says:

    Great snippet and I love your inspiration for the story!

  17. Diane Burton says:

    I hope she figures out the clue soon. Her cousin needs rescuing. good snippet. Love the bird’s antics as it tries to help her.

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