Something different: A bedtime story for the little ones.
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Children and grown-ups of a certain disposition: These are the tales of Grinygrowlers, Rumblows, Long Tall Grinners, Boglers, Munties and many other creatures that wander the marsh by night and by day. These are tales told to me by Voglestrom Finkelstein, a five hundred-year-old goblin.
I have sat huddled in front of Vogle, on cold dark damp nights, for many hours listening to stories of his life on Wilden Marsh, or Wild Marsh as he calls it. This goblin speaks in an ancient English dialect, which has taken me a long time to get to grips with.
On this particular evening, Voglestrom Finkelstein sits on his favourite rotting tree stump, close to his home, deep in the swampy wood, not too far from the River Stoor. He is glad that his tree home is well away from prying eyes and wandering Grinygrowlers, Rumblows and Long Tall Grinners. Gooey fetid mud and cold foul smelling black water seep from the ground around his big hairy feet, oozing luxuriously and ticklously between his fat gnarly toes. The squidgy and obnoxiously smelling mud makes satisfying gurgling noises as the goblin squeezes it from beneath his very long curly-wurly toe nails, which he never ever trims. Rain drizzles down the deeply furrowed wrinkles of his thin dark leathery face. Water drip, drip, drips from the very tip of his long slender warty nose, glistening like jewels caught in a golden moon beam. His thick black greasy and knotted beard is home to many small creepy crawly creatures and a very self-important and mischievous bat.
The dark swampy wood is dank and forbidding, and as quiet as a grave this evening. Whisps of feathery mist swirl from the ground, lingering and twisting tortuously through the tree branches. “This really is the most wonderfully gruesome night,” said Vogle.
Vogle saw Grinygrowlers attack the trees at the southern end of the marsh. They bullied, howled and growled so loudly that the trees eventually gave in. Sharp cracking, howling and wailing sounds; high pitched sighs, and heavy thuds were heard all over the marsh that day. He watched as tree branches were sliced from their trunks, leaving them naked and unable to shade themselves. The resident birds now have to fight for perching rights on fewer and fewer branches “I have tried to do what I can to help my unfortunate friends,” whispered Vogle, “I fear there is nothing I can do that will stop the Grinygrowlers from attacking trees I have known for many years.”
The goblin lives in a large gnarled oak tree that has served its purpose admirably for more than three hundred years; it is a very basic home that has not changed much in all that time. With more than one entrance and exist, the majestic tree has little within it to make a goblin’s life comfortable. The living space is at the top of the tree’s trunk and consists of a single cramped compartment with a small clay stove, a hole in one wall containing a wooden smoking pipe, and a single naked flame torch. There isn’t a bed, a chair, a table, or a cupboard; Vogle sits and sleeps on the hard floor. Weather permitting, the goblin prefers to sleep under a bush, or at the home of one of his many friends. It has to be a very cold night indeed, before the goblin seeks the shelter of his tree.
Volge’s favourite foods are raw slimy slugs and deliciously thick and juicy fermented earth worms. The main reason he likes to stay with his good friends the Boglers, is that they have very similar tastes to Vogle, as far as food is concerned that is. There are plenty of other things that tickle his taste buds: honey fungus is a particular delicacy. Pondweed makes an exceptionally tasty salad for a warm summer evening; acorns are quite nice, too. His best of all favourite food is rotten mushroom pie.
When Vogle seeks the comfort of his tree, he slips sideways through a very narrow slot at its base. There aren’t any stairs to his living room. He must squeeze up a very small winding cavity that runs the full length of the tree’s trunk. If you were to look in through that slot, you would have no idea that this is the home of a goblin.
Vogle has many places to shelter in the stoor valley, and on the Wild Marsh where he now lives. From time to time, things happen that require him to move to another location for a while. Things like being seen by a Long Tall Grinner; sometimes the Rumblows tear up the ground close to his home, and the Grinygrowlers can launch an attack at any time. Yes, there are many strange, mysterious, unexplainable and violent things that happen to test the patience and tenacity of Voglestrom Finklestein.
“Do you remember the night we first met?” I asked Vogle. . . .