Pies and Goblins
The beautiful music of the piano flauta filled the great hall with the promise of the best Harvestfest ever. The elves of Kral had entwined only the most colorful fall leaves into their garlands, and decorated each column was with tall stalks of corn.
The judges were gathered to judge the entries and to award blue ribbons for the best pumpkin carving, the biggest gourd, the heaviest cabbage, and the best tasting pumpkin pie.
"Here's my pie," said Holly as she brought her pie to the judging table, "what number will it have?"
"Number seven," the chief judge said. "Each pie must have a different number." Her sisters Noel, and Merry added their pies to the table. "eight and nine," said the chief judge as he marked them on his list.
Across the hall, Holly saw Kris Kringle and his brother Nicholas preparing to judge the Best Tasting Pumpkin Pie Contest. For a moment their eyes met and shy smiles lit their faces.
Unnoticed by most people, a large, hunched over figure in a dark hooded cloak snaked its way through the merry makers. It reached the pie table, then sniffed its way along, thinking that King Muso would be very interested in the pies.
"This will be a piece of cake," said Nicholas Kringle.
"Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Kris, "Don't you mean a piece of pie?
Twenty-one pies were lined up on the table to be tasted. The eager judges took their places, and sampled a tiny bit of each pie taking notes along the way. After deciding on his favorite pie, each judge put his ballot into the box. Goodfellow Kringle counted the ballots.
"We have a winner!" he announced. "Holly Goodjul wins the first prize for the best tasting pumpkin pie. Please report to the stage to recieve your blue ribbon."
There were now several dark robed figures mixing in with the crowd and making their way to the stage.
Holly went to the stage where she was given a bright blue ribbon for the first prize in the pumpkin pie baking contest. She thanked the judges for their decision, her father for the pumpkin, and her mother for teaching her how to bake.
In the audience, Kris Kringle glowed with pride right down to the ends of his red mustache as he applauded his beautiful green eyed, Holly.
"Nicholas," Kris whispered to his older brother, "I must tell you our secret. Holly has agreed to become my wife." Nicholas Kringle was excited and happy for his brother. He said that he thought there was something between Kris and Holly, and that their parents had hoped that they would get married.
"When will the wedding take place?" Nicholas asked.
Before Kris could answer his brother, two dark robed figures leapt up onto the stage and stuffed Holly into a large burlap sack and carried her away whuile she cried piteously for help
"We've got her!" Bulu cried. "To the Goblinkeep!"
All the strongest Goblins bared the way of the villagers who tried to rescue Holly with their iron staffs, while the smaller Goblins stole the rest of the pies from the judging table.
Bulu, the Goblin leader, raised his hand for silence. "King Muso needs a cookmaiden. She is coming with us to the Goblinkeep. Do not try to follow us." With that they disappeared and went their way to the awful Goblin Nether Realm where the Goblinkeep was.
In the great hall, the stunned crowd murmured their shock. Olaf Larson Goodjul urged the men to go after his daughter to save her from her awful fate, but already the Goblins had vanished.
"Once upon a time, this town used to be a Goblin town. Since the goblins refuse to share their towns with outsiders, they went away when the old elves came around and ever since they held a grudge against us so they are now our enemies," said Goodfellow Kringle. "They must have used some secret passageways to get in here."
"That darn goblin Bulu had better not hurt my Holly!" said an angry Kris Kringle waving his fist.
In the meantime, far under the earth, near the Goblin Nether Realm, secret tunnels led the Goblin forces toward the Goblinkeep through the cavern Kingdom of Goro.
Still in her sack, Holly Goodjul could smell the dampness and feel the roots poking out at her from the earth above, but she was silent now, and tired from her struggles. No one there would listen to her, yet deep in her heart, she knew that Kris Kringle and her father would find her.
Bulu was the iron staff bearer of the right to King Muso. If was his job to find young girls to serve old King Muso as cook maidens, and washer maidens, and sweeper maidens, and duster maidens.
Bulu was a busy goblin because work maidens had to work twenty-three hours a day with only one hour for sleep and a crust of bread to eat. They soon got sick and died of housework drudgery.
Around his thumb was his iron ring of office which made an orange rust ring on the skin. Iron was the favorite, and the only metal that goblins ever wore because of the lovely rust it made from their sweaty bodies. Soon Holly would be fitted with an iron collar of service and be presented to King Muso. Bulu expected a reward from His Majesty Muso for Holly and he dreamed of the many things he would do with his riches.
Back in Kral, Goodfellow Kringle said that they must all be calm and make a good plan to free Holly.
"Many years ago, when I traveled to an area near Goro," Nicholas Kringle ventured, "there was a shortcut passage underground which had been used by the Goblin hoards. At one point, we came to a bridge which crossed over an underground river. It was a troll bridge. The trolls demanded a gold coin before he would allow us to cross. Without question or delay, I paid. Daro, the Troll, thanked me and told me that I was the only person who ever had paid him without a fight."
"As trolls feed their families from the money that they collect from bridge cossers, the troll was especially grateful and advised me to keep to the path on the left because the path to the right led directly to the Goblinkeep in the Awful Goblin Nether Realm.