I know this was posted yesterday on Lyn's the Witches of Halloween but I am in love with the beginning story of this young Hobgoblin and wanted to post it here for those of you who didn't get to read it yesterday. Also because this is only the first installment in yet another series of "faery tales". I will have another ready for you before Samhain. Many thanks to all of you who encourage my story telling. You know you only spur me on to more madness and I love your for that. So without further ado.......Nip.
For thousands of years humans have been in close contact with the different incarnations of the fae, be it troll, gnome, sprite, bogart, sylph, mermaid, goblin, faerie or the hundreds of other incarnations of the fae races.
Nip is a member of the fae. He began his existence as just an ordinary hob goblin. And this is how his story begins.
Most of Nip’s youth was spent in a piney wood close to a mid-sized village of human. He lived in a deserted badger’s hole with his Ma and Da and 4 younger siblings. They made their way in the world through barter and the occasional sale of the furs that they collected after the humans had killed the beasts of the forest. The leathers that his Da made were known throughout the forest and fetched quite a price at the faire in the autumn of the year. Nip enjoyed helping his Ma sew the soft furs into robes and throws.
Nip was the gatherer of the family. He went out in the dark hours to find the “dead ones” or what was left of them. He wasn’t afraid like his siblings. He actually looked forward to getting to tuck the dead ones in after he had taken the skins and furs from them. He was good at digging a hole and burying them so that they could be at peace and hidden from sight. He took a great deal of pride in his work and was always a happy hob goblin knowing that his part of the family business was essential in all of the household lasting the cold winter months with stores of nuts, berries and his Ma’s famous squash bakes.
The autumn faire was not just a marketplace or a trading post but it’s where all the fae would gather for three days at the second harvest to barter, swap and sell their wares. Families traveled for miles to get to see their friends, relatives and join in the excitement and wonder of this time of year. The King and Queen of the Fae always made an appearance and even joined in the dancing. A mood of goodwill and joy was what all the fae looked towards during the faire.
Nip himself knew that he would have to be even more help in the tanning and sewing as well as his job of gathering in order for his family to be safe and well fed during the harsh winter that approached. He and his Da worked to finish all the skins and he spent time teaching his younger sister the art of sewing the furs. His Ma was making all the squash pies, gooseberry preserves and her lovely root tarts she could manage in between supervising the sewing of the capes, hoods and blankets. Even the younger siblings joined in by gathering dry wood to keep the stove burning for the cooking and the outside tripod bubbling for the tanning. The hob goblin neck of the woods was very busy in preparations. The best part of being a part of this family was the singing and laughing that they also incorporated in their days work. Nip was a lucky hob goblin surrounded by love, work and fun and he knew it. He had met other hobbies at the faire in the past two years that were our on their own by his age with no one but themselves to attend. Most of the others were sad, mean or grumpy and he reckoned it was because they didn’t have the connections to family that Nip had. He vowed never to leave the woods and had made his own plan when he was of the age to go out on his own to live nearby so that if he was fortunate to have a wife and hoblets of his own, they would know the connection, he too had lived in his youth.
As the days grew shorter, and the time for the faire drew closer, the family talked over what they would need from the marketplace. It was for certain that Da needed a new blade to do his work, Ma needed to get more needles and some yard goods for making the family new wraps for the winter and Nip hankered for a blade of his own instead of always having to ask to borrow his Da’s. He would sell some of his rope that he had made by the fire at night from the sinew of the dead ones from whom he gathered. His next youngest sister would be allowed to attend this year and her parents hoped that maybe some young hob goblin would take a liking to her and come to live with them in the woods. There was always need for more hands. But Nip’s sister only wanted to go to see all the wonders with which Nip had regaled her when he returned home from the festivities these last two years.
For you see, this was not just an ordinary faire, it was the best of all the seasons. Rich with the bounty that the earth provided to all the fae as well as silks from spiders webs, exotic fruits and vegetables, clothing embroidered with shiny bits of shells from as far away as the sea, furniture made from the finest wood, rugs, drapes, jewelry, perfumes from the most rare herbs, hair combs, pillows stuffed with duckling down, wagons that could carry anything and of course there was the musical instruments. All of these wonderments and more were for sale or trade to any and all fae.
The morning finally arrived to leave for the second harvest faire. The wagon was loaded to almost overflow with all their goods to be used to their families well being. Nip took the rope, wrapped it around his waist and began the pull as he would do many times in the journey. The rest would also take turns pulling the wagon as they made their way to something they all prepared for and looked forward to all year long.
As they approached the woodland clearing they came upon a very chaotic sight. The Queen was standing on the side of the road sobbing into her hands, her shoulders quaking with grief and she was surrounded by her court of faeries. Every member of the court was weeping and moaning.
Not far from them was the changeling rabbit. She was on her side and had been injured but from where the family stood they could not make out how badly nor how it may have occurred. The royal guards were surrounding the rabbit and they too looked very sad indeed.
Nip took a step towards one of the fairie court and courteously asked what had happened. This lovely being told him that they had been on the way to the faire when the changeling rabbit had been set upon by a something that none of the others could see. This something had killed the changeling with a blast of light and gotten away before the royal guards could even react. What could have done such a thing? The changeling was the only being that could open the veil between the worlds of the human and the fae. She worked to open the veil between the living and the dead at Samhain at the beheast of the elders. The changeling could not be killed, she was the opener of the veil. That just couldn’t be, but it was true. The Queen had sent for the King to see if there was anything he could do because her magick had not been able to bring the changeling back to life. She was in anguish.
Nip took the news back to his family. They all were horrified and a bit frightened. What if the something came for any of them? His Ma and sister began to cry. Nip agreed and moved the wagon and his family to the tree line just in case. They waited for the King as well.
It was not long before the King and his court arrived. They too were in shock and tried everything they could think of to bring the changeling back but to no avail. The King’s butler suggested they try to find the source of the blast of light. They asked if anyone had ever seen such wounds before?
Nip drew closer and said yes he had. He had found a couple of groundhogs at the base of a tree who had wounds like these. It had been during one of the wet times in the woods where they live. And the King asked Nip his name and where these woods were and what was the wet times? Nip answered all their questions and told them much more than they ever wanted to know of his travels and duties in the woods and his work with the dead ones and his care of them. For you see he had never met a royal and had no idea that they really did not care about his life or his work.
Reader, you must understand it never rains on the King or Queen so they had no idea what rain or lightning was or how it could be dangerous. But a country hob goblin had the answers to their questions.
The King did not even have to ask, because Nip just simply went about his work and dug a hole for the changeling rabbit as he had for so many dead things in the woods close to home. Everyone stood and watched as he tucked her into her final resting place and covered her up with dirt and then gathered rocks to secure her place. The Queen’s court had begun to weave flowers, vines and branches into a burial loop and gently laid it upon the place that would be remembered as the last place they had seen the changeling rabbit alive. Odd that the very being that opened the veil for those who had departed would this Samhain be on the other side of that very veil.
The King and Queen remained at the sight and Nip and his family continued onto the faire.
After trading and selling all their wares and goods the family had decided to attend the last night’s dancing as they felt they deserved a night of fun and enjoyment. This would be the first that any of them had seen of the Royals since their meeting in the clearing.
Nip was dancing with his Ma, spinning her round and round to the beat of the flute and drum when he felt a light touch on his shoulder. He turned to see the Queen. He was quite surprised, bowed deeply and returned her smile. She had come to thank him for his generosity and tenderness. She had also come to ask him if he would be interested in taking on another job and offered him the job of opening the veil at Samhain, since he had such a loving way with the treatment of the dead ones. She had been so very touched by his spirit and appreciated his love of his job.
Nip was speechless, but his mother said, oh yes, yes, what an honor but will he have to live away from his family? The Queen assured her that he could travel to the veil yearly to do his job and that he would be given his own wagon and team of mice to take him to the location. He also would be able to continue to live his hob goblin life and she personally would make sure of that because she saw the warmth of his spirit because of the love of his family.
Nip finally found his voice and said that he didn’t know how to do the job but that if he could say so, he was a quick learner. The Queen laughed and said that she and the King would assist him the first time he opened the veil and that she had every confidence in his abilities. Nip just beamed. Never had a hob goblin held such an important job and he was so very proud and happy.
All the fae, raised their acorn tankards and toasted the new “Opener”. To Nip the hob goblin, “Cheers”.
So if you dear reader hear someone mention in the month of October that they feel a “nip in the air”, you know exactly to whom they refer.