When the day finally arrived, Smira could not bear to look. Hopefully there would not be any complications, leaving her with a bevy of ill-tempered mixed greens, or dunderheads with sticks of celery for arms and legs. The very thought made her clasp her hands even tighter.
One by one they popped out, the sound of their raucous gabble bringing an instant sigh of relief. In all she bore three handsome goblings—bright, brazen and with the hideous hunger for which they are renowned.
“Never have I seen anything so precious,” Smira gushed. “I shall name thee Ñekkum, Yeka and Gagem.” She embraced the three goblings. “Thank you, your highness.”
Mouth agape, King Dillsing was not sure what to make of them. The three did not look a whit like him; goblins they were through and through. As weeks passed, he became victim to their foul play. They behaved like mischievous pets, snapping at his fingers, and soiling the throne every chance they got. But there was little point in arguing—they were his tyrannical tots, whether he liked it or not.
Walking soon led to running, which in turn led to the disappearance of many of his loyal subjects who frequented the hall. Goblins crave celery, and never seem to fill their bottomless paunches. King Dillsing knew that one day the troublesome trio would turn their appetite on him. He had little choice but to lock them in a distant part of the castle until they became more amiable; but his goblin bride would not be so receptive.
Each time Dillsing tried to bring up the matter, Smira cut him off. “Everything will be fine, you shall see. Why wait any longer? Let’s have another three,” she grinned.
Realizing that she would never agree, the king devised his own scheme to bring them into compliance. “Before our offspring grow a hair taller, there is something I must ask of you, my queen.”
“Anything, your highness.”
“Now that they are old enough for the journey, you must take our three stalklings to the weeping willow in the wetlands, and have them baptized by an imp named Tutis. All children go there to be registered in Hollawree,” said Dillsing.
“I’m busy today, dear. Would you mind taking them?” Smira asked.
“Only the one who has given birth can see the willow.” The king frowned. “If you wait too long, your vision will fade, and you will find yourself lost in the bog. It is best that you go now,” he insisted.
“Of course, my love.” The queen turned to the toddlers. “You heard the king, we must be off.”
“But I don’t want to go,” Yeka cried.
“Leave at once!” The king’s voice darkened.
The three goblins scattered behind Smira. Gagem poked his head out from under her white dress. “What’s the magic word?”
“Go,” he replied.
“Nope. Try again.” Ñekkum peeked over Smira’s shoulder.
“Now!” King Dillsing stood.
“Please…is that the word you seek? Let us hurry before we upset the king any further. See you upon the morrow, my love.” Smira blew him a kiss, and dragged the three brats behind her.
“Not if I have something to say about it,” the king mumbled to himself.