As originally published on Medium and in The Magikal Rite (October 2017)
Take heed, children, and be mindful of your ma and fa lest you be lost like so many before you. Scoff if you will, you little skelpie-limmer, but there’s strange and terrifying creatures afoot in this wide world of our’n. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that such a terrible thing happened at the edge of our own Umgol Forest, deep and dense. ’Twas three young brothers — Joreth the eldest, Jochen the youngest, and Jofrey in the middle between the two — that lived along the tree line in a small cottage with their mother and father. Father was a woodsman and a hunter, tall and strong like an oak tree. Mother, a clever and pretty lass, sold eggs from their hens and butter from their cows at the market in the small town of Umgol’fen. They were poor, to be sure, but happy, and together they earned just enough to provide them with what they needed. There were always plenty of candles to sew by and wood enough to keep them warm on cold nights, and that was enough for them.