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Fire and Ash

Written by EmperorCharlesII

The goblin crone sits down on the ground as the large group of goblin children gather around. They climb over one another to try to be the closest to her, their little hands getting dusty in the large underground cavern that functions as a nursery.   They listen intently as she begins to spin some tale. She holds her hands out wide, makes growling sounds and does the occasional shriek. The children cower in fear, jump in surprise, giggle and laugh. You can tell that it's an engaging tale for them, even though you don't speak the squeaky otrayish tongue.   After she is done talking, the children laugh and clap frantically. Then they begin to scatter off to other activities in the nursery cave, leaving you and the crone alone for a moment. You decide to ask about the tale.   "Well, it's about the creatures of the lava field." she says, her accented Common a little difficult to deduce. "If they are bad children, and their parents are also bad, they might be left there as a gift."   You shudder a little. It reminds you of the bogeyman that your parents told you lived outside of the castle walls when you were little. While you now know that there are real monsters, and bogeymen aren't real, a tiny bead of that fear still rests in your chest...

Summary

The story usually centres around a naughty goblin child. Often, storytellers use the name of a child listening to the story to make it more intensely personal. This fictional child does all kinds of bad behaviour, like stealing food and leaving doors open during ash storms. As a result, the parents of the child decide to punish them.   One day, the parents of the child were going out to collect some rich ash from near a volcano and asked the child to wait near a large rock, saying they will return soon. After collecting some ash, they took a different route to go back to their settlement, abandoning the child in the volcanic wastes.   The child eventually got bored and wandered closer to the volcano, leaving the spot that the parents had told them to wait at. They wandered before finding the entrance to a cave in the side of the volcano, where a low light was shining. Curious, the child went inside.   Inside the cave, the child finds a group of lava elementals, loudly growling and smashing rocks. The child immediately runs and they are followed out onto the plain. After trying to hide behind a rock, the lava elementals find them and eat them up.   The storyteller then asks the children what they learned. When the children respond correctly, the storyteller reminds them that the lava monsters can't get them if they behave, and lets them go about their day.

Variations & Mutation

Variations are commonplace, and many of them change the story completely.   One version has the parents wonder about the fate of their child and return to the rock, only to discover the child had left the spot. They search the volcano area but the child is never found.   Another has the lava creatures spare the child, but only if the child agrees to behave in the future. The child agrees and returns to their home and becomes a model child.   A very rare one toted by a couple of mage families in Mor-Fal has the child question their parents' orders. When the parents abandon them, they find their way to the lava elementals and learn magic from them, showing that acting out can be helpful.

Cultural Reception

The story most obviously attempts to teach the rules of goblin society. Things that would endanger a goblin settlement appear as ways the child acts out in the tale, such as:

  • Leaving doors open during ash storms,
  • Stealing food and water,
  • Not following parents' instructions.
  • Hurting other goblins, and/or
  • Not wanting to go to bed
  It also teaches children to be afraid of and careful around volcanoes and lava, as they are the most common way to die among the goblin race beyond disease.

Related Species
Related Locations

Spread

This story is part of the canon of nursery caverns throughout otraylar culture. Nearly every nursery cavern has a storyteller recounting some version of this story, and many goblins remember hearing a version as children.  

In Literature

Some written copies of this story exist in collections of folk tales from Sedestan society, and those outside of the Grey Devastation are more likely to have heard this tale from those collections.  

In Art

Some nursery caves and children's rooms have drawings of lava monsters based on how they are depicted in the story or based on actually seen lava elementals.
Art Credit: emperorcharlesii (me!)

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