“Don’t be sorry,” Kay responded. “Gremlins can be all but invisible when they want to be. You probably wouldn’t have seen him even if you’d been looking right at him.”
“It wasn’t . . . really an ambush,” Dax groaned sluggishly. “To them, this is all a game. A very cruel game where somebody will probably get killed. And people wonder why I don’t like to think about ‘fun’ in this valley.”
Known as troublemakers and baby-stealers, gremlins have a reputation for cruel tricks and cunning traps. Like fey, they enjoy pranks, but they are much crueler about them. A faerie might have a laugh by turning a person’s nose blue, but a gremlin would find it funnier to cut that person’s nose right off.
Gremlins are not born as gremlins. Rather, they begin life as fey. When the fey creature becomes too cruel or reckless in their tricks, it is cast out and forced to live underground, away from its own kind. Separated from his kin, the fey becomes twisted and aggressive, eventually transforming into a gremlin.
A gremlin’s body often changes form due to the types of tricks he likes to play. One that loves tripwires and pits might walk with a hunch that keeps it low to the ground. A gremlin that hides in dark places might develop big, white eyes to help it see better.
Gremlins aren’t intentionally aggressive toward humans – they just don’t care about the consequences of their pranks. A gremlin might think it’s fun to put a firecracker in an oven, only to have the explosion burn down the whole house. As long as it makes pretty flames, the gremlin doesn’t care who gets hurt.
Like the fey, gremlins have an aversion to things made of iron, although they tend to be more devious in bypassing them. While most fey will just steer wide of a home with iron charms hung about its windows, gremlins will dig under the floorboards or crawl down chimneys. This can sometimes backfire on them, as a chimney might have a fire burning at the bottom or their tunnel might accidentally lead into a badger’s lair. Gremlins tend not to consider the consequences of their actions, even when it be in their best interest to do so.
Particularly mean gremlins have been said to have a strong interest in human children, even going so far as to steal them away. Some believe that there is a gremlin king somewhere in Greystone Valley who turns human children into new gremlins. Others believe that the creatures actually see strong-willed children as leaders and want to learn from them. Whatever the truth is, no parent wants his child to be confronted with a gremlin, and many households train a watchdog to specifically chase gremlins away. If a dog is barking at a pile of wood for no particular reason, the odds are good that there’s a gremlin hiding underneath, cowering in fear even while it plots its next trick.
Gremlins lurk in hiding as Sarah begins her new journey, waiting to strike. If you’re curious as to how she fares against the tiny monsters, read Conquest of Greystone Valley to find out!
Image: Kobold, by JNL