If a traveller should take the road west from Lurbridge towards the Witches Home, he would pass Esmerelda’s shop after about three miles. Carrying straight on, past the turning which leads towards Arthur’s castle, he would then have to travel a further fifteen miles or so, along a not very well travelled path, before seeing the next sign of habitation. Passing among the trees he would eventually find a collection of cottages and even a house or two, but would be well advised not to stop for too long, or even ask the inhabitants for further directions. This is a village of the red goblins!
Even so, these particular goblins are not the worst of their sort. Certainly they play tricks on any passers by, but in general are fairly well behaved for their kind. The really nasty ones had been banished long ago to a secure place known as Happy Valley and up till now, none of them had ever escaped from that place. However, thanks to a blunder by some very inexperienced users of magic, six of them had got out of the valley and had arrived in the village to hide. Except for the inhabitants, nobody yet knew of their escape.
One day, not too long after the new arrivals had appeared, a rather pleasant looking middle aged lady dressed in peasant clothes, could have been seen standing amongst the trees on the opposite side of the road from the village. None of the goblins had seen her arrive, she certainly hadn’t walked along the road, as there was nearly always one of them looking out hopefully for a stranger to appear. However, she was quickly spotted as she left the shelter of the trees and crossed the road. Several youngsters crept round behind her and waited for an opportunity to try out some of their tricks.
“I’m looking for five or six goblins to do some work for me!”
One of the youngsters smaned and threw a large handful of mud at her head. Rather to his surprise it didn’t reach her, but seemed to slide off without touching her clothes at all.
“The next one who tries that will get more than he bargained for,” said the lady who seemed to know that they were behind her without turning round.
One of the larger children picked up a stone and threw it at her as hard as he could. The next moment the stone rebounded and hit the thrower very hard indeed, he immediately started bawling that it wasn’t fair and ran away with all the other children. Their parents began coming out of doors to see what all the fuss was about.
The one who had thrown the stone was crying loudly, “She hit me with a stone mum, do something to her.”
“I’m still looking for five or six grown up goblins who can do some work for me,” repeated the lady, “and please don’t do anything silly or you’ll all be in trouble!”
“We don’t work lady,” said one of the grown ups, “you should know that if you’re from any where around here. And you’d better be careful who you’re threatening, we’re not kids you know, we can get really nasty!”
“My name is Georgina and I’m a witch! I’m not from around these parts but I’m looking for some goblins to play tricks on a group of people who have upset me. I don’t want to use magic directly because I don’t want them to know I’m involved. So if anyone is interested I’ll be giving them some spells to be used in accordance with my instructions. I can assure you the results will be very amusing from your point of view. Now then for the last time, is any one interested?”
One of the larger goblins pushed his way through the crowd. “What’s in it for us and how do we know we won’t get caught?”
Georgina looked at him carefully. “You’re not from round here are you? I’ve seen your type before but I thought you were all put away in Happy Valley.”
“Yes we was, but some of us got out about a week ago and we’re lying low here until any fuss dies down!”
“Well you certainly won’t get caught if you follow my instructions. When you’ve used the first spell I give you, you will have a second instant travel spell to use which will bring you straight back here. Some of you may well be travelling forty or fifty miles and I would think you could easily prove that there’s no way you could be that far away if you were here all the time!”
In the end there were six volunteers. Georgina looked at the smallest one rather critically.
“I’ve just come from Happy Valley with the others,” he said before she could say anything. “I may be a bit smaller than them, but I’m just as frustrated after years of being prevented from having any fun. None of us will let you down!”
“Right then, this is what I want you to do.”
She handed each goblin two spell boxes, one of which was painted red. “After you’ve used the ordinary box in the way that I’m going to tell you, open the red one and you’ll come back here instantaneously. The red box won’t work until you’ve used the other one! Have fun and I’ll see you all again in two to three weeks, then I’ll give anyone who wants to carry on, another set of boxes.”