Evil’s Shadow Grows Longer

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In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) seek out the truth when a stranger arrives in the humin village causing their friend Mica great trouble.

***

As the long freezing days of winter gave way to the first signs of spring, an enigmatic stranger arrived in the humin village where Mica lived. He was a wandering nomad by the name of Eodor who made his living knapping the finest flint tools, spearheads and knives in exchange for food and lodging.

At first the villagers were wary of him.  But he soon charmed them all, turning the heads of all the women, especially Agnitha, the daughter of the village shaman Eystin and Mica’s intended, by his handsome appearance and easy pleasant nature.

Not all however fell under his spell. Eodor had been given the hay loft in Miranda’s stable for his temporary abode. Miranda like all animals has the ability to judge any being by its shadow, unlike humins and goblins that only see a normal shadow. Only one other group of living creatures share this ability –the white sisterhood. Sensing foreboding, Miranda communicated the fact to her beloved goblin friend Neo when he next came to comb her luxuriant mane.

That night after the goblin brothers had eaten their fill, Neo sat at his customary position on his stool beside the fire in their living room, unusually quiet and in deep brooding thought. Not once did he grumble about anything his brothers said or did.

Glob, seeing Neo was truly troubled, sat beside him.

“What’s wrongs brother,” he enquired gently as he put another handful of sticks on the fire.

Neo stared at the dancing flames through his crossed eyes for a few moments before answering.

“Tis the stranger Eodor; I fear he brings evil alongs with him. Miranda says she saws his true shadow and she’s frighted by it. She believes he means harm to someones in the humin village I’m afraids Glob.”

Neo slumped back against the wall with his head in his hands. For the first time in his long life he was very afraid.

Never before had Glob ever seen Neo so shaken and concerned for anyone other than his beloved Miranda.

“What shadow did she sees then?” Glob quietly enquired, not wishing to alarm Make, Mous and Byz by speaking out too loud.

Neo leaned closer, so close that his long pointed nose almost bent double against Glob’s leathery ears.

“She saw the shadow of a terrible mountain gremlin, where a humin’s one should have beens,” Neo whispered as quietly as he could, shaking his head at the prospect.

Glob visibly shivered. Mountain gremlins terrified all non humins. They were feared by all living creatures and where usually employed by black witches to carry out vicious assassinations.

“Truly, tis evil Miranda saw Neo. At first light, goes to her and rides east. We needs Brilith here. Her powerful white magics is sorely needed once more,” Glob whispered, while throwing his arm around Neo’s shoulders to reassure him.

***

The following morning just as the sun rose in the east, no one noticed that Miranda had gone from her stable, especially Eodor who was still sleeping in the arms of a young maiden, physically exhausted from having satiated his needs after charming his way into her bed the evening before.

After Neo left, Glob called together the remainder of his brothers.

He charged Make and Mous to first find, and then shadow, Eodor’s every movement. He sent Byz to find Mica and stay with him. At the same time he asked Bejuss to accompany him to keep his mind on the important task, knowing full well how easily distracted simpleminded Byz can be at times.

Mica had risen early and was busy in the southern meadow picking the prettiest dew covered wild flowers to take to Agnitha when Byz and Bejuss arrived. He had decided that today he would ask her father Eystin, the village shaman for her hand.

Both Byz and Bejuss did their level best to totally distract their humin friend Mica in friendly conversation, until the time for action drew near.

By noon Miranda was back in her stable.

Neo left Brilith on the southern edge of the humin village and quickly sought out Glob, who was watching all that went on in the humin village from the confines of the old cave above, where months before the black witch Cazophen had briefly made it hers.

Neo eventually arrived, wheezing breathlessly after the hard climb up the steep wooded east side of the valley and, still unable to speak,  pointed back to where a comely young blond haired maiden, carrying a basket of flowers, slowly walked towards the centre of the village.

***

Brilith revelled in the looks of physical desire her attractive form generated among the humin men, as she deliberately sought out Eodor.

“Flowers, pretty flowers,” she cried as she continued to seduce the humin men by way she swung her shapely hips as she walked among them.

“Who will buy my pretty flowers?”

“What will it cost me for a posy of flowers my lovely?”

Brilith smiled sweetly at the handsome stranger, despite the evil shadow he cast.

“You may have a posy for a gentle kiss handsome sir,” Brilith giggled, as she fluttered her eyelashes at him, while brushing her hair to one side, exposing her perfect facial features and completely entrancing him.

Eodor eagerly seized her slim waste and roughly drew her towards him. As his lips met hers, Brilith delved deep into his malevolent mind. Despite the loathing she felt for this abomination, she never once alerted it to her true purpose as she sought the answers she needed.

***

After her encounter with Eodor, she disappeared from view behind one of the village roundhouses and soon joined Glob and Neo in the cave above the village.

“You did right to fetch me here my dears,” Brilith announced gravely as she once more took on her real white witch form.

“Eodor is indeed a mountain gremlin and he is here to take revenge on the humin shaman Eystin by murdering his daughter Agnitha.”

“But why does it wants to?” Neo enquired, fighting fit once more and ready for anything.

“It has been sent by Geraint, brother of the dead black witch Cazophen. Twas Eystin who first called her witch so long ago my dear Neo.”

“Whats to do, oh whats to do,” Glob said as he frantically paced back and forth in the cave mouth, feeling deep down in his old bones that this time maybe they were all out of their depth.

Brilith thought for a few moments before hitting upon a strategy.

“We need to distract it my dear friends. Glob, go tell Mica that he has a rival for the hand of Agnitha. See to it that he challenges Eodor to a fight in the southern meadow. Neo, gather up your brothers and join Glob and Byz at the meadow. But stay hidden from view until you hear me cry the gremlin’s true name. For when I do, it will begin to change back to its real appearance. It is at its weakest as it transforms. That is when the five of you along with young Mica must strike, overcoming and killing it. Though beware my dears; a mountain gremlin is a tricky foe. It may cause you grievous wounds. Go quickly now!” she concluded, giving both goblins a gentle shove towards the cave mouth.

***

Mica needed no urging as anger took over when Glob lied to him. He soon found Eodor talking to Agnitha outside the door to her home.

“Leave my Agnitha’s house you cur!” Mica yelled, seething with anger. Eodor turned and for a brief moment took in every detail of the tall powerfully built young warrior closing with him.

Agnitha screamed and ran inside the house.

“Fight me you dog, fight me! Agnitha is promised to me by her father Eystin. None but I have the right to her hand,” Mica seethed.

Eodor stood square on to Mica. In his humin form he was Mica’s equal in strength and size.

“Very well pup, choose the place of your death – here and now if you like.”

Eodor deliberately spat the words out to goad the young humin warrior into making a foolish move. He was going to enjoy this brief distraction before he fulfilled his contract for Geraint.

“Meet me at the south meadow as dusk falls!” Mica spluttered angrily, fighting back his immediate desire to strike at his rival here in the village.

“So be it young fool,” Eodor’s handsome face twisted into a cruel mask. He was going to enjoy killing this humin.

He added one last mocking insult as Mica departed.

“Don’t forget to pray to your gods’ boy. For soon you will join them!”

***

The sun was almost touching the far western hills when Eodor strode towards where Mica stood at the centre of the southern meadow. Bejuss saw him coming and let out a cry of sheer terror.

“Rarrk, the evil comth – beware!”

Then the old raven flew high into the branches of an oak tree at the edge of the meadow and hid from view.

Glob, Make, Mous and Neo lay in wait in the shadows behind a tree stump with their razor sharp goblin blades at hand, ready to come to their humin friend’s aid. Byz had wandered off yet again. He sat at the southernmost edge of the meadow, happily playing with a butterfly.

Mica stood ready with his flint headed axe in his right hand and his best spear dug into the ground beside him. His left hand caressed the handle of his flint bladed knife stuck in his belt.

Brilith readied herself, wand in hand behind a large boulder close to where Mica stood.

Eodor and Mica began circling each other, searching for a weak point. Mica swung his axe with his right hand while stabbing his spear at Eodor with his left.

Eodor’s lightning agility meant he was easily able to dodge every blow Mica delivered. Both soon tired of these preliminary skirmishes and closed with one another, dropping all weapons except for their knives.

At first they were evenly matched, but gradually Eodor’s unnatural strength gave him the upper hand. Mica, despite his youth and strength was beginning to tire. Eodor finally grew tired of the game and sliced into the young humin’s thigh with his knife. Mica fell on his back, clutching his thigh in great pain. Blood flowed free between his fingers from the gaping wound.

Eodor straddled his foe, and at the point where he was ready to end Mica’s life by plunging his cruel knife into the young humin’s heart, Brilith stood forth and called out his true name, temporarily ending the fight.

“Behold foul beast, thy name is Lungwort. I command ye to reveal thy true self!”

Unable to disguise itself any longer the mountain gremlin stood up and began slowly transforming; forgetting the young humin it had been so intent on killing.

Lungwort remained still as he slowly and painfully transformed, reverting back to his natural appearance.

He stood half the height of a humin, yet twice the height of a goblin, with bat-like wings protruding from his back. His foul head was adorned with yellow bat-like ears and a bat muzzle of the same colouring. His cruel mouth was filled with long sharp teeth capable of ripping flesh with ease. A long thin tongue hung limply out of one side of his cruel mouth.

His heavily muscled torso, legs and arms were grey in colour. Each of his hands was armed with viciously sharp slashing claws. His four toed feet, three facing forward, one back, were all armoured with vicious claws, supporting his powerful legs.

“Now my friends, strike now while he is at his weakest,” Brilith cried as she stood with powerful spells at the ready.

Glob, Neo, Make and Mous dashed from their hiding place and attacked the mountain gremlin with such fury, stabbing, ripping, gouging, biting – each of them seeking that mortal wound.

Lungwort was almost fully transformed, but he was sorely wounded.

He lashed his head and arms from side to side trying to catch or bite one or other of the goblin brothers as they clung to him while stabbing him.

Make had made Lungwort’s still not fully formed wings useless. His goblin blade shredded them, rendering them useless for flight.

Neo had finally managed to hamstring one of the brute’s ankles, causing all to fall in a tangled heap on the ground.

Lungwort seized Mous in one powerful hand, squeezing the tiny unfortunate goblin, breaking some bones, and was about to bite off his head, when suddenly he relaxed his grip as his cruel black eyes glazed over.

His foul existence was ended.

Simple minded Byz had finally remembered why he was in the meadow and with one swift movement had succeeded in finding the gremlin’s heart with his own razor sharp goblin blade.

The aftermath of the battle was a truly horrible sight. Mica lay in agony, bruised and battered, still clutching the bloody wound on his thigh. Glob, Make, Mous and Neo lay exhausted, equally bruised and wounded.

Byz sat down, once again distracted, this time by a pretty wild flower while Bejuss, his courage returned, stood on the gremlin’s head pecking out its dead eyes with his twisted beak.

It would take many months before the goblin brothers would ever speak about the day they all truly fought for their lives with their deadliest foe – Lungwort the mountain gremlin.

And, what of Mica and Agnitha I hear you cry?

They were married according to the humin custom. Their joined hands were bound with garlands of flowers on mid summer’s day beneath the ancient oak where Glob, Make, Mous, Byz, Neo and Bejuss lived. By the following summer the goblin brothers would have another yung humin to look out for.

***

Geraint sat in his lair scowling at the happy wedding scene in his witch bowl. Time was on his side. He would send no more agents to do his bidding. One day he would personally take revenge on Yestin and his accursed family for the murder of his beloved sister Cazophen; and as for those accursed goblins…

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