Happy Halloween! May it be a spooky fun filled holiday for you!
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Brown Mouse

A few yards away, behind Knoxby’s shack, a one-eyed, porcelain baby doll danced with a brown mouse beside a woman who sat underneath a bush with her knees up to her chest.
“Little gibbering mouse, what do you say? The old man has gone far, far away,” said Alice.
The brown mouse squeaked and pirouetted in front of her, while the baby doll looked on. Alice rested her head on her knees and rocked back and forth.
“No, said the gibbering mouse. “Beware little boys. He will be back. And the witch he will bring up through the crack.”
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Goblin War

The Goblin War of 1516 was a day that went down in Cragmore history as both victory and defeat. Aberdean Cragmore and Gernard, the goblin elder, were frenemies who liked to indulge in games of chance. One night, after too many pints of bog ale and an unfortunate losing streak, Gernard offered up a prized piece of land used by the goblins as an outpost, if Aberdean could beat the goblin at a game of cards.

“I’ve got you now, human,” said Gernard, confidantly. “This game has not been played for centuries and is only known to goblins.”

Aberdean was no fool and accepted the challenge. Little did the goblin know, he was familiar with the ancient card game and had played it many times in Grimhold Marketplace at Weapons & Charcuterie; where you could purchase the sharpest of knives
and eat your weight in meat. It was run by a group of goblins from the north. Aberdean was quite confidant he would win. Goblins are very territorial, so he was sure Gernard had no idea about the northern goblins.

They played the goblin card game, which was actually similar to poker. Gernard won two hands to Aberdean’s one. The goblin didn’t want to play anymore, but Aberdean convinced him to play one more hand.

“I let you win on the last hand, human,” said Gernard. “You can’t beat a goblin.”
“One more hand, my friend,” said Aberdean. “If you win again, I will go. If you lose, the land is mine.”
The goblin shook his head and deal the cards. “Goblins have always reigned over humans. You must like tormenting yourself with that knowledge.” To Gernard’s surprise, Aberdean won the hand. The goblin chocked it up to another bout of luck and refused to let Aberdean leave until he won the next hand, which he didn’t. Aberdean won the next ten hands with ease and Gernard grew more and more angry.

“You tricked me, human,” growled the goblin.

“I did not,” said Aberdean, standing up. “You assumed I did not know how to play.” He bowed dramatically and turned to leave. “I want your men gone by morning.”

“This is not over, human,” said Gernard. “You cannot claim a prize won with trickery. We will fight and wipe you out.”

“We will see, goblin,” said Aberdean.

And so began the Goblin War of 1516. Aberdean went on to victory with a bit of yellow skunkweed and help from the goblins of Grimhold. They had some old scores to settle and were more than happy to join in the fray.

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“A wish for you. A wish for me. Break the bonds and set them free. One chance to make things right. You have reached the heart. It’s time to fight.”
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No one ever said owning a dragon would be easy. Many have tried and failed. Dragons are unpredictable. They are cantankerous beasts with a tendency to pinch when they don’t get their way. Razor sharp claws do not tickle.
Some dragon owners have complained about sleepless nights due to snoring that resembles a jet engine or the midnight feedings. Word of warning, have a good pair of earplugs and an enormous supply of pie handy.
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It’s not easy being a gnome, especially if you’ve been cursed with the ability to turn to stone; just ask Gilbert.

Gilbert was a good-hearted gnome, but not as cautious as he should’ve been. He lived a good life in a small stump a few feet away from the home of humans. Every morning they prepared a feast. The wonderous smells roused Gilbert from his bed and called to him by way of a very rumbly belly. He got up with a skip in his step and a jaunty little tune on his lips, combed his beard, put on his best and only pair of pant and made his way to the house. It was the same every day and Gilbert was happy.

But today was different. Before Gilbert could reach the mouse hole that lead to the kitchen, a furry white beast pounced from the bushes and blocked his way. It hissed and swiped at him with its sharp claws. He froze in fright. The beast hovered over him. Its fishy breath made his stomach churn. Its whiskers grazed his face. His reflection in the beast’s large yellow eyes stared back at him.

Gilbert did the only thing he could think of and turned to stone. He hoped the beast would get bored and go away, but it didn’t.
It laid down in the grass and batted at him with its paws. The sun rose high in the sky. Its rays warming stone Gilbert. Finally the beast yawned and walked away, but it was too late for poor Gilbert. He’d been encased in stone for too long. The humans found him a few days later and wedged him between a plastic flamingo and a crop of poison ivy.
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Jebediah Knickerthorpe

Not all dwarfs are created equal; take Old Jeb, for instance.

Jebediah Knickerthorpe was born with unusually small hands. It was unheard of.
To compensate for their small stature, dwarves’ were gifted with large hands and feet. (They also had the ability to grow long flowing beards within a month’s time, but that’s another story.)

“Look at those tiny hands,” said his father. He shook his head and frowned. “He will grow into them,” said his mother.

Jebediah’s family came from a strong, hearty line of dwarfs. His father could wield a hammer with such ease it appeared to be light as a feather. His mother could lift the vegetable cart by herself filled to the brim with the day’s pickings and Jeb’s younger siblings sitting on top. His uncle could swim across a raging river without getting pulled under and his aunt wrestled wild boars for fun.

Jebediah could not lift his father’s hammer. He could not lift, pull or push the vegetable cart. The one time he tried to cross the river, he was pulled under the second his feet hit the water and his aunt had to save him from a mother boar when he tried to wrestle its piglet.

After an especially frustrating day trying to pick apples and failing, Jebediah threw down his basket and kicked the trunk of the tree. His frustration was relieved, but only due to the excruciating pain in his foot.

“Your differences are what make you special,” said his mother. “You will find your way, until then, enjoy the journey.” Jebediah experienced many more trials and tribulations. In spite of his tiny hands, he grew up to be a happy dwarf.

One day his mother sent him out to pick junberries. It was a task he had done many times before. The berries were small and easy enough to pluck from their branches. He leaped over a stream and hopped over roots sticking up out of the ground. The hardest part was climbing over the downed tree that blocked the path to the junberry bush. It usually left
him sweaty and exhausted, but today was different. On his last visit, he created stairs using rocks, mud and sticks. He ran to the top of the downed tree with ease and celebrated his triumph by throwing his hands in the air.

“Any celebration, no matter how small, is always good for the soul.”

Jebediah whipped around and lost his footing. He landed on the forest floor with a thud. He rolled over to find the elder dwarf sitting beside the junberry bush with a feather in his hand. The feather was full and beautiful, but it was its sharp tip that caught his attention.”What is that?”

“It is my quill. It is what I use to write with,” said the elder dwarf. Jebediah’s bushy eyebrows came together and created one hairy line across his forehead. “Come here and I will show you.” He dipped the tip of the quill in ink and touched the paper in his lap.

Jebediah watched in fascination as the ink flowed across the paper. Black swirls filled the page. The elder dwarf dipped the quill again and moved around the page with quick strokes. An image of the junberry bush appeared. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. The urge to touch the quill was strong. The elder dwarf chuckled and handed it to him. The quill fit perfectly in his hand. He slid the feather between his fingers
and marveled at its softness. The elder dwarf placed the paper in his lap and plunked a heavy leather satchel at his side. It was filled with more paper and quills. Jebediah carefully dipped the quill into the ink and swirled across the paper just like the elder hand done. It felt amazing.

“My hands are too big to hold the quill for long, but yours are perfect. The village could use a wordsmith,” said the elder.”Once you learn to write, of course.” He turned and walked away.

Jebediah stared after him and felt happier than he’d ever felt before. In that moment, he knew he had found his way.
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