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The Goblin Prince (story)

Note: I originally published this story on here as part of  Hallowe'en Faves + Round- Up post because it fit the theme! Hope you enjoy it. :)

I'm sorry the paragraph spacing is a bit messed up, I had trouble with it when I transferred it from Word to here. :)

The Goblin Prince

When I was 15 my father told me that I was to marry the Goblin Prince. Although the news of my betrothal was shocking to me, the fact that my father would promise me to such a person (if person he could be called) was not. Since my father was little more than a robber who was also accused of burning down houses and kidnapping girls, an act like this was not surprising. He often travelled to sell our crops but his travels were also a cover for his thieving trips and he had been involved in many dubious transactions.

I said nothing, for what was there to say? My opinion did not matter and voicing it would not change anything.

The Goblin Prince lived deep in the forest. My family, along with our handful of neighbours, lived on the outskirts and none of us ventured far into the woods, due to the bandits who hid in there waiting to pounce on unwary travellers and also the tales we had heard of even worse creatures. Chief of all these was the Goblin Prince. Until now no one in our area had ever seen him but everyone had heard stories of how he and his strange followers haunted the forest, waiting to drag people down below the earth with them. My father met him one evening on the way back from one of his “errands”. The Goblin Prince accosted him, angry at the trespass in his wood and only let him go in return for the promise of marriage to me when I turned 17, the age at which girls wed in those parts.

  “How do I know you’re telling the truth, Father?” I asked. “The Goblin Prince is just a story.”

My father pulled something out of his pocket that cast a golden glow. It was an acorn but unlike any I had ever seen before- so much smoother, finer detailed and surrounded by a burnished golden light.

“Here Ariana,” he said. “He gave this to me as proof.”

He put the acorn into my palm and as soon as it touched my skin I saw a scene unfolding in my head- my begging father crying and cowering before a big dark shape that kept wavering.

  “P- please, I’m sorry! I’ll give you anything you want! Anything at all!”

  “Your daughter,” said the dark shape, “your daughter Ariana. She is what I wish to have.”

  My father hesitated for a second but then the great shape reared up before him and he screamed, “Done! Done, she is yours! When she is of marriageable age you shall have her.”

  “When she is 17, then.”

The vision faded from my mind and I was left staring at my father, the acorn in my hand also faded to nothing.

  “You are so beautiful, Ariana,” said my father. “I’m sorry, lassie.”

He tried to stroke my cheek but I shrugged off his touch. My mother was dozing in the corner, insensible for hours due to the mead she had consumed.

  Shortly after I was told of the betrothal I started having dreams. They continued for the next two years and only stopped with my wedding.

  In the dreams, I was in the forest and the Goblin Prince was also there. He was tall (he towered over me) and thin. He had long dark hair that flowed down his back like water and deep green eyes, a hooked nose and thick eyebrows. He looked like a man apart from a faint greenish tinge to his lips, and his nails, which were slightly longer than a human’s. And when he smiled I could see his canine teeth which were longer than the average man’s too and twice as sharp. He also had another, darker shape, which I had seen an outline of in the vision but he rarely revealed it to me again.

  Mostly he talked to me in his nightly visits- he told me about himself and his world, his kingdom and the people and creatures in it. He said my hair was like corn silk. Sometimes we danced. During summer we sat on the grass and in winter gathered around a fire.

  I’d like to say these dreams haunted me but in truth I always woke-up refreshed. The Goblin Prince was respectful and I never came to harm with him, in time he came to almost feel like a friend. Despite growing more comfortable around my husband to be, I could never quite forget that in the future I was to leave my life behind and go to live with him. I loved my mother and, despite his ways, I loved my father too. My life was bleak at times but I liked it and would miss it once I left. Still, there was nothing I could do. Thus was the fate of a girl in my world.


On the morning of my 17th birthday, my mother woke me early. She told me she loved me very much and always would, then gave me a deep purple ribbon she had bought from market.

“This is a sash for your dress,” she said. “I imagine you will have no need for your old clothes once you are with the Goblin Prince but I want you to take this with you. I know I haven’t been a very good mother to you, Ariana but I love you so much. Please never forget that."
She kissed my forehead and tears gathered in my eyes, threatening to spill. I brushed them away and hugged her tightly.

“I love you too, Mother,” I whispered.

The previous night the Goblin Prince had taken my hand and said, “Soon you will be with me.” It was the first time he had touched me and it sent a shock right through my skin. Yet I was not afraid. I did not pull away; I kept hold of his hand. And when I awoke, I remained unafraid.

My mother helped me dress, then brushed my long blonde hair and braided the top layer. These were things she had not done since I was a little girl. My going away outfit was a simple white gown and a circlet of flowers adorned my head. At the last minute I tied the sash around my waist.

“Bye, my love,” my mother whispered, pulling me in for one last embrace. Then she retreated towards our thatched hut, as if the more distance there was between us, the less likely she would be to stop me leaving.

“Good luck, lassie,” my father said. “Once again, I’m sorry. I regret my choice but it is done. Fare you well.”

I turned away from him without a word and made my way into the forest. There was still nothing to say and there never would be.

  The further into the forest I walked, the closer together the trees grew and the darker it became. My heart thumped with fear. I held onto the ribbon at my waist and thought of my mother as she used to be when I was young, before all the drink. The memories gave me some comfort; it was good to remember that once I had truly been loved.

  Eventually I reached a clearing; there was a hush all around. I stopped and looked into the trees but could see nothing. I began to believe the Goblin Prince wasn’t coming; perhaps he had forgotten about me and I could go home after all. My spirits lifted and I turned to leave, only to find him standing behind me. I gasped and at the same time, my knees gave way. I never even hit the ground because the Goblin Prince caught me and held me up. I found myself staring into his emerald eyes.

  “You are just as you appear in my dreams,” I whispered.

  “You are even more beautiful,” he answered.

His voice also sounded familiar but it was deeper than in my dreams and the whistly tone vibrated everywhere, it sounded something like the wind through the trees or the rustling of the leaves along the ground and at the same time neither of those things.

  I did not reply. The Goblin Prince spoke again.

“I am glad you are here. You are my princess and I will do my best to make you happy.”

  “T-thank you,” I said.

He touched the ribbon at my waist.

“This is a link from your old life.”

  “It is a sash from my mother. Am I not allowed to keep it? Am I to sever all ties completely?”

  “If you do not, you may find it hard living here. The sadness will pull at you always.”

I looked around at the dark wood noticing the stillness everywhere- no animals, no birds, hardly any sunlight penetrating the clearing in which we stood.
  “The sadness will pull me at anyway,” I said.

  “Very well, keep if it you wish. You should have the choice; I can offer you that at least.”

  “You could offer me my freedom!” I exclaimed, anger rising in me suddenly.

The Goblin Prince dropped my hands.

  “I cannot do that. The deed is done.”

At his words the wind howled and a big gust swept over us, blowing my hair all over my face and sending shivers through me. Outside the forest it was a summer’s day but here in the clearing it was cold. The Goblin Prince seemed unaffected by the temperature; he wore a dark shirt with an ornate gold pattern and black trousers but no coat.

  “Come with me,” he said, “it is time for our wedding. Once it is over I will show you to your quarters.”

  The ceremony took place in another clearing further into the forest. As we approached the spot there were thousands of shapes gathered all around, strange creatures waiting in the darkness. I covered my face with one hand to avoid looking too much; my other hand was clasped firmly by the Goblin Prince. I was shaking all over.

We stood in front of a bonfire and were married by a tall red creature with horns. I could not understand the vows; they were in a guttural language unfamiliar to me. I repeated the lines the creature said as best I could. Afterwards the dark shapes rushed out from the crowd and wound a deep red ribbon around my new husband and me, tying us together closely. I had expected that we would kiss at the end of the ceremony like in human weddings but the Goblin Prince made no move towards me. He only smiled and said, “Close your eyes.” I obeyed and listened as the sounds around us grew more frenzied.

  “They are happy that their prince has a new bride,” the Goblin Prince told me (it seemed as if he now spoke in my head rather than out loud). “I am allowing them their frolics.”

  I was very frightened, so I held as still as I could. Gradually the noises faded away and the Goblin Prince’s voice came again, instructing me to open my eyes. I did so and found we were alone.

  “You have shown great courage,” said my husband, smiling again. “Many girls would have lost consciousness, perhaps even died. You did not. Now we are married and will begin our new life. Let us set off for your home.”

  Silently, I followed him through the trees and down a twisty path. We walked until we came to a large building made out of wood, it had many stories.

  “This is my summer home,” the Goblin Prince explained. “For now, it is yours.”
My eyes widened. “All this? Mine and mine alone?”

  “You have servants; they will attend to your every need. Go now and I will see you this evening.”

  He turned and was gone in the time it took me to blink. Left alone, there was nothing to do but enter the building.

  As soon as I walked through the narrow doorway, a smell filled my nostrils, woody and earthy. It was soothing and seemed to ground me. I saw before me a vast hall and at the end, a staircase. I walked towards the stairs and before I was halfway there, a crowd descended upon me. They appeared to be a mix of humans, odd creatures as different from human beings as night from day and others somewhat in between.

 They rushed me up the stairs, all chattering at once and proceeded to press plates of food and flasks of drink on me. Overwhelmed and wishing for peace, I shut my eyes.

  “Please leave me alone!” I thought.

Silence fell. I opened my eyes to find that, just as after the wedding, everyone had disappeared. Breathing deeply, I turned my attention to my surroundings.

  I was in a huge room, seated on a wide bed with a soft green and gold cover. The room was furnished with wooden chairs, green, brown and yellow mats and pillows in various colours, the walls were leaf patterned. On the floor sat all the food and drink the creatures had left behind. Unsure what to do, I sat and stared at the wall, my eyes tracing the pattern as it spread up to the ceiling.

 “Eat,” a voice prompted, coming out of nowhere and swirling round my head.

Deciding that was my best option, I lifted a dish off the floor; it contained a piece of cake which looked tempting but I hesitated.

  “Do not be afraid,” the voice said, whistly like the Goblin Prince’s. “Just as you came to no harm in your dreams, you will always be safe here.”

  I lifted the cake to my mouth and took a bite; it was a seed cake and the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. Until now I hadn’t realised how hungry I was and I eagerly sampled the rest of the food. It was truly wonderful- apples that were crisp and sweet, smoky cheese, flavourful bread and more cakes. All accompanied by creamy milk, red wine with a fruity taste and fresh water. I had never had so much choice in my life!

  After the meal I was so sleepy that I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes, pulling the blanket over me.

  I dreamt of my parents going about our little hut. They moved slowly (brokenly, I thought). Several times my father leaned in to hug my mother but she pushed him away. A flask of mead lay untouched on the table.
  “How could you, David?” my mother accused, screwing her face up in anger. “How could you sell your own daughter? What kind of a man are you?!”

  “I’m sorry Anne, I’m truly sorry,” my father mumbled.

But she did not seem to hear him, instead she sobbed. I awoke suddenly, with her cries rebounding in my ears.

It had grown dark. As my eyes adjusted I saw there was a shape before me. I opened my mouth to scream, forgetting where I was but a hand clasped mine and at the same time a lamp lit up the room, illuminating the face of the Goblin Prince.

  “You have been having a bad dream?” he asked.

“Yes, about my parents. My m-mother.”

  “Your parents miss you. They love you very much.”


  “The bond between you is strong; it’s not surprising that you dream of them.”

  “I love them, even though they haven’t always been the best parents to me.”

To my embarrassment, I began to cry.
  The Goblin Prince held a hand out to my cheek and caught a tear. As soon as it hit his palm it transformed into a crystal.

  “How- how did you do that?” I gasped.

The Goblin Prince smiled. “I have many powers. Come, lie down and I will sing you to sleep.”

  I did as he said, closing my eyes. His singing voice was beautiful, softer than when he spoke. He sang about faraway lands, a kingdom where a swan princess lived, a world where the sky was forever pink and orange. I felt my body relaxing, calming down until I was sleepy once more and I gently floated away on his words.

In the morning the sun slanted down through the window and shone on me, I woke to its warmth on my skin. As soon as I sat up the servants from the previous day returned. Under their guidance I took a bath and dressed in a white dress that was almost a replica of my own but made of much finer fabric. I completed the outfit by tying the purple sash around my waist. A tall female servant brushed my hair and braided the top layer, just like my mother had done. She looked like a human woman apart from the green sheen to her skin; I didn’t find her as frightening as some of the other servants.

  Breakfast was some kind of porridge, smoother than any I had eaten before. I washed it down with a cup of water. The instant I set my bowl down, it was whisked away and the last few servants who had lingered while I ate also vanished. I glanced around me, wondering what to do.

  “Good morning,” a voice said, causing me to jump.

The Goblin Prince stood in the doorway. He wore a plain black shirt; open at the neck and black trousers, with matching calf length boots.

  “Good morning,” I greeted him.

  “Did you sleep well?”

  “Yes, thank you.”

  “That is pleasing. This morning I thought we would take a trip to the caves.”

“Caves?” I repeated.

“My caves. Would you like that?”

I shrugged, not really caring what I did here. I only wanted to go home.

  “Shall we?” asked the Goblin Prince, extending a hand to me.

I got up and crossed the room apprehensively.  My new husband took my arm, gently sliding it under his own and then escorted me down the staircase and outside.

  We walked through what seemed like acres of forest, yet I felt no tiredness. The air smelt sweet and the greens of the trees and bushes around me were extremely vivid. Eventually we came upon a cave guarded by a rock; the Goblin Prince put his hand to the stone and easily rolled it away.

  On entering the cave mouth my heart beat fast and with every step we took down below, it accelerated. I could not see the path we walked on and felt as if I was going to be swallowed up by the darkness.

 “No need to be frightened,” the Goblin Prince said. He lifted his left hand and a light sprang forth from it, allowing me to see the cave walls, massive ceiling and stalagmites. From then on, his hand lit our way forward and my fear lessened slightly.

  The caves seemed never ending, everywhere there were creatures working, chipping at stone and the sounds echoed all around.

  “What are they doing?” I inquired.

  “Working for me,” replied the Goblin Prince. “They work with stone- extract pieces, reshape them into blocks and sell them to humans. It is enchanted stone, extremely strong and there is much call for it in the human world.”

  Finally we reached our destination, a pair of stone thrones.

  “Yours and mine,” explained the Goblin Prince, sitting down on the biggest one.

Following his lead I sat on the other.

  “Your rightful place is by my side,” he said, taking my hand.

This time his touch startled me and for a moment fear spiked through me, surging through my veins until it evened out and then faded into a kind of calmness.
I do not know long we sat there, with subjects working around us. Sometimes they would come and ask advice or report a problem. Completing the wedding ceremony had somehow enabled me to understand their language and I could now easily follow everything they said. The Goblin Prince’s mood varied- he responded with politeness, impatience, gratitude or anger, I never knew which it would be before he spoke. Still others came and asked favours of him, to help a sick child, tell the future, or stop the dreams. Some requests he granted, others denied.

  The light never shifted because we were so far below ground and I could not tell the day was passing until the Goblin Prince told me it was time to leave. As soon as we exited the cave I felt relief and savoured the fresh air, breathing it deep into my lungs.

My husband was watching me.

  “Being down there tires you,” he remarked.

  “While it is summer you shall remain above ground. Once the first snows hit, I retire to my winter palace and you shall come with me. But until then, you will be in the air and sunshine. Does that please you?”

  “I would like to be in the open air,” I said.

  “Then it is settled. Come, our evening meal waits.”

I had forgotten about food but the sight of a long table covered in dishes back at the summer house kick started hunger in my belly. The Goblin Prince ate with me; we dined on salty, strong meat and golden potatoes. The last course was a berry pie, tart and delicious. During the meal the Goblin Prince talked and I listened, he spoke of all the things he had seen in the world. Just to hear his stories exhausted me, so after the meal was over and he led me to my room I was relieved.

  A nightgown awaited me on the bed. The Goblin Prince disappeared while I changed and was back as soon as I lay down. Once again he sang me to sleep.

The days passed, June slid into July and July into August. During this time I got to know the Goblin Prince.

  I learnt that there were many facets to him; he could be dark and cold but also sweet and tender. Sometimes I looked into his eyes and saw emptiness, other times I almost imagined I saw love.

  “What was your life like before?” he asked me, one golden afternoon. We were sitting in the clearing where we had met that first day, I on a log and him at my feet.

  I hesitated at his question. I still dreamt of my parents, their sadness weighed heavy on me and when I emerged from sleep I felt it still. The pull of home was always there.

  “I did day to day tasks,” I said slowly, “cooked, cleaned and washed. Fed the animals, tended to the crops. My father was often away, supposedly travelling to and from market selling our crops but we heard bad tales of him. My mother tried to forget what she heard, pretend it was not happening and she lost herself in drink. Sometimes we were all together; we sat round the fire and laughed. Some mornings I would wake-up and the sky was blue, I was grateful for the sunny day.  It was a simple life and not always happy, but it was mine.”
 I stared into the distance at a strip of sunshine caught between the trees. The silence stretched on so long I thought the Goblin Prince would say nothing more. When his response came it surprised me.

  “I am old. I am very old, as ancient as the earth in fact. I have not seen my parents for a long time; they left me here to rule as I wish. I have been very lonely throughout my life. There is much darkness in me and when winter arrives I find it harder to hold my shape, I often slip back to the true goblin that I am. However, since I met you, I began to believe that this year it will be different. Perhaps I will hold my shape for longer this time, retain my human traits.”

 His voice was full of some kind of deep emotion. I turned to look at him, found his eyes (forest green today) boring intensely into mine.

  “I saw your darker shape twice in dreams,” I said, “and once before, in the vision I had the day my father returned from arranging our marriage- but barely. You have been careful to conceal it from me.”

  “I am ashamed; I wish to be a man. Alas, that can never be, I know there will always be darkness at the heart of me. I have often watched humans and wanted to feel as they do, been deeply jealous of them and their simple lives. My nature is something I struggle to accept.”

  “I am truly sorry.”
I closed my eyes, trying to imagine what it would be like to be something other than human.

  “I love you, Ariana,” the Goblin Prince said. It was the first time he had spoken my name. “You have helped me to feel again, in the prophecies of my people it was said that if a goblin could find a true mate then perhaps he could come to know love and I have discovered that it is possible. You have brought love to me. Thank you.”

  A feeling welled up in me that I could not describe, sweet and bitter at the same time. The Goblin Prince was next to me all of a sudden, taking my face in his hands and lowering his lips to mine. The kiss was right; I knew that it was right because I loved him too.

  “Stay with me one winter,” he said, “one winter below ground. If you cannot stand it, I will ask you to endure no more. I cannot promise that I will let you go but I will never ask you to live under the earth again. You have my word.”

  I nodded and he enfolded me in his arms.

The days started to shorten and the nights to lengthen. Autumn was here. With each leaf that fell from the trees, the sadness within me deepened because I knew that the time to move to the caves neared. Bonfires cheered me slightly; we spent nights gathered around them with lively goblins. They told stories and danced madly among the flames, daring each other to stay in the fire the longest.
  On the day we moved below ground I was wearing a deep purple dress, the Goblin Prince’s latest gift to me. The sash from my mother was firmly tied around my waist but it blended in with the colour of my dress and the effect was lost. My hem dragged on the ground, collecting snow. The Goblin Prince held my hand as we descended. Torches lit our way and there was a crowd either side, the annual migration was always a big ceremony. One of my favourite goblins, a round fluffy male, scurried at my feet, chattering excitedly.

  Rose petals were laid out before us; they led the way to a bedchamber. Once the Goblin Prince dismissed his subjects, him and I walked over to the big bed in the middle of the room and seated ourselves on the deep red bedspread.

  “And so our time underground begins,” my husband said, stroking my cheek. “I stand by my promise- one winter underground and no more.”

I spent 4 months underground with my husband. Each day weighed heavy on my soul and I felt dragged down further, yet I was also happy because I was with the Goblin Prince.

  Things carried on as normal; the Goblin Prince’s subjects worked and he presided over his kingdom. I spent my days as I did above ground- wandering around, sewing, weaving, also writing (the Goblin Prince had taught me to sew and write, skills I had never learnt in my previous farming life) and spending time with my husband when he was able to spare it.

  Several times the Goblin Prince lost his shape. He would be sitting or standing there (once lying next to me in our bed) and his human form would slip, I would see his features start to slide and his brow grow heavier and thicker while his cheeks would become gaunter. His skin was suddenly grey and his teeth shaper than ever. It frightened me so much. But then he would be back, the man I knew and loved and he would be holding my hand. Besides, I knew the goblin shape was just another part of him, his true shape and if I truly loved him- which I did- I needed to accept all of him. He told me that my presence helped him keep his human form more often.

  “Your love is good for me,” he said.

I loved him very much and yet I was miserable underground. I longed to be up above in the air and sunshine, feel the breeze on my face. And I still dreamt of my parents, missed them fiercely. I wanted to be with my husband but the longer I spent below ground, the more I felt the coldness and darkness growing in my soul.

  The Goblin Prince was not affected, it was his natural habitat and he revelled in his life. As for myself, not even the parties we held could cheer me. We would dance around, all eyes on us and I would be wearing a bright red dress, finer than I had ever known in my former life. My life now was grander than any I could have hoped for if my father had not betrothed me to the Goblin Prince. Still I was unhappy. I would be in his arms knowing he loved me and loving him too, surrounded by thousands of people but I could always feel the loneliness at the heart of me.

One night in March, I awoke from a dream, distressed. My mother had been crying, deep heartrending sobs. Instinctively, I reached out and clutched at the Goblin Prince’s hand.

  “What is it?” he murmured, tenderly brushing my hair away from my face.

  “I dreamt about my mother, she was crying.”

The Goblin Prince closed his eyes, seeming to think on something deeply.

  “I have suspected for a while that something was wrong. I believe…your father is dying,” he said slowly.
  “Father!” I gasped. “Why did you not tell me?"

 “I am selfish,” the Goblin Prince said, hanging his head, “I wanted you with me. But now I see that I was wrong. Your family needs you, you should be with them.

Besides, I have kept you here long enough, winter is over. It is time to return to the world above.”

I looked at him. “You mean- “

“I release you, yes. You are free.”

I didn’t know what to say. I was to go home finally?

  “I am so grateful for you being here with me,” the Goblin Prince continued. “You have changed my life and I will never forget that.”

He smiled at me, the kindest, most loving smile I had ever seen on his face. My heart thumped as it had once before, on my journey to my new life.

  “I do not regret my time with you,” I said. “When I came to you I was very afraid but I have grown to love you very much. It’s this life below that I do not like. I believe I could be happy with you back above but perhaps never completely because I miss my family. Despite how my father has behaved, I cannot live with myself if I don’t see him one more time.”

  “And so you must go.”

He put his arms around me and I relaxed into them.

  “Tomorrow we will return to the world above,” the Goblin Prince said, “and then you will be free to return to your parents.”

I nodded. We lay quietly in the darkness for a while and then I spoke-up.
  “What is your name? We have been together for almost a year and I still do not know it. Won’t you tell me?”

  “My name is Aran,” said my husband.

The day of our return, I woke early. Our move back to the world above was as dramatic as before but I was rather distracted from it all, my mind taken up with thoughts of my parents.

  Once we arrived at our spring palace, Aran explained how I was to go back home.
  “You are to leave at sunset. You will walk back the way you came, through the forest. Do not look back.”

  “Will some terror befall me if I do?” I asked, alarmed.

Aran shook his head.

  “No, my love, it will just make your heart heavier to see what you are leaving. As your home constantly pulled at you, so too will your life here. Also, it will hurt my heart to see you looking back.”

  “I understand.”
Before long the sun began to set. My servants fetched the dress I came in; reminding me of a time that now seemed long ago. Hurriedly I dressed and fastened the sash around my waist.

  “You look more beautiful than ever,” Aran said, softly kissing my head.

I had not heard him come up behind me but I was now used to his sudden arrivals and departures. I turned and smiled at him, pleased to see his eyes light up in response.

  He took my hand and led me outside. The sun was sinking below the trees, turning the sky pink and orange. I embraced my husband, reluctant to let him go.

  “I love you,” I said. “Thank you.”

  “I love you too, Ariana, more than you can ever know. Now go.”

He kissed me and then suddenly was gone, his exit stirring the leaves on the trees around me. The area was quiet, as if no one lived here, yet I knew his subjects were among the shadows. Before I could change my mind I began to make my way through the forest, the sun at my back.

  When I emerged from the trees it was twilight. Urgency rushed through me, what if my father was already gone?  Gathering my skirts, I raced through the fields towards my former home.
  The hut looked just the same. Tears sprang to my eyes as it came in sight; I had thought never to see it again.

  My mother looked up as I burst in and clutched a hand to her heart, staring at me as if I were a ghost.

  “A- Ariana!” she gasped.

  “It is really I, Mother! I am back- oh Father!”

She was sitting next to a bed in which my father lay, a thin blanket over him. Quickly I rushed to his side and fell to my knees, grasping his hand. It was bony- he had grown thin all over.

  “Father!” I sobbed. “I heard you were ill, so I came to you. Oh Father, I love you!”
My father’s eyes were darting about the hut but at the sound of my voice they latched onto mine.

  “Ariana lassie,” he said, his voice very weak, “I thought I would…never see you again. Ariana…I’m sorry. I regret what I did…every day. But now…you are safe.”

  “Yes Father, I’m safe,” I assured him. “I am safe now and always, you need not worry. And I forgive you. I forgive you.”

My father smiled then.

  “Now I can leave this world…easily. I was a weak and foolish…selfish man. I love you, you know.”

  “I know.”

He closed his eyes at that and never opened them again. He died that night.

My mother struggled to understand why Aran had let me go.

 “He cares about me,” I told her. “He couldn’t bear to see me suffering.”

  “So now you will return to him?” she asked.

  “No, he released me forever.”

My mother looked up from the embroidery she was working on. She had taken to sewing in the weeks since my father’s death (having learnt it from a friend who had a high born cousin) and I was now in charge of the farming.

  “Did he treat you well? Do you miss him?”

  “He treated me very well and I do miss him a lot. However, I could not handle life below ground in the winter months. I need to be above the earth, among the sun and trees.”

  “I am very sorry for what I have done too,” my mother said, covering my hand with her own. “We all make mistakes. But I’m very pleased to have you back.”

I hugged her and that was the moment I truly forgave her, as I had truly forgiven my father before his death.

  It was strange adjusting to life above the surface and in my former home. I was happy to be back, the thought of home had been constant during my time with Aran. I was grateful for the daylight and the chance to walk in the fields. My relationship with my mother was better than it had been for a long time, she no longer drank as she used to. I was fairly content.

  And yet everything was not perfect. First of all I missed my father; life could not be how it was before. Also I did miss Aran very much (I could no longer think of him as “the Goblin Prince”). At night I was plagued by dreams of him, in which he grew ever sadder and colder, retreated further into the goblin he was. Try as I might, I could not shake a feeling of dread. It stole through my bones and turned the summer evenings cold. My mother and I would often sit outside in the fields, my mother with her ever present embroidery. One evening I thought I heard crying far away in the forest and I shivered.

  “What it is, Ariana?” my mother questioned.

  “I- nothing, just the breeze,” I responded.

  “You must be feeling something different to me!” she laughed. “I’m sweltering! Perhaps you are coming down with something. You need someone to take care of you, there’s only so much a mother can do and I have often failed you.”

  “What do you mean?” I asked sharply.

  “You need a husband.”

Her words turned me even colder with shock.

  “A husband? Mother, I am still married!”

  “Surely that doesn’t apply here, in the human world?” scoffed my mother. “It’s not legally binding; he’s not even a man!”

  “Aran is my husband!” I cried.


  “That is his name! I won’t discuss this any longer, Mother,” I said abruptly, getting up and going into the hut.
  That evening I dreamt of Aran sitting in the caves. He was in his goblin shape, sitting on the floor with his back to the wall, so still and dark he appeared to be a part of it. I could feel the sorrow and anguish coming off him; I knew that he was missing me.

  “Ariana…” he said and the echo of his voice rumbled through the caves and the ground, all the way through the earth and travelled to our hut. I heard my mother cry out in fear. Scrambling out of bed, I hurried outside.

  “Ariana! Where are you going?” my mother called out confusedly.

  “I must go, Mother! He needs me!”

My journey this time was short. I hardly noticed my surroundings, so intent was I on getting to Aran. I felt goblins all around me, clamouring for my attention or trying to stop me (I did not know which) but I ignored them, pushing through.

  Before long I came to the caves. As I entered there was silence. I listened out for any sign of my husband- nothing reached my ears but I felt a vibration deep within me. It pulled me forward, on and on, ever deeper, until I came to Aran.

  He was just as I had seen him in my dream- sitting against the wall. He was scaly, grey and so still he had almost turned to stone. I knelt down beside him and reached out to touch his cheek.


He didn’t respond.

  “Aran?” I said again.

The seconds stretched out and I was becoming more afraid.

  “Aran, it’s me, your wife Ariana. I have come back. Aran!”

He remained still and cold, perhaps I was too late and he was dead.  Grief and regret surging in me, I took his hand.

  “Aran, please wake-up! I love you.”

A tear slid down my cheek and onto his hand. The tears kept coming as I thought of all that had happened and all that I had lost.


The voice broke into my thoughts, sounding quiet and rusty from disuse.

  “Aran?” I gasped, my head snapping up. I met his eyes, stormy green like the sea.
The rest of his face was coming back as well, returning to its more human colour.

  “Ariana, you came back to me,” he said wonderingly. “Why?”

  “Why?” I repeated.

“I gave you your freedom. Why did you come back?”

  “Because I love you.”

He reached forward to take me in his arms and happiness welled up in me.

  “I love you and I want to be with you. I couldn’t bear being without you because-” I began and then he kissed me and I forgot everything else I was going to say.

Aran and I agreed that I would live most of the year with him in the spring and summer palaces but from November to March I would live with my mother, in our hut. The knowledge that I need no longer spend any time underground brightened my heart and made my reunion with my husband all the sweeter. Since I was joined to him in marriage, I would live as long as he would.

  My mother was unsure of the Goblin Prince but I knew that in time she would come to accept him. And even if she never did, it would not matter to me, for now I knew that I wanted to be with him forever.

Copyright Zania Muma 2014, 2016


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