The original Princess and the Goblin story is owned by George MacDonald, and the movie by Entertainment Film Distributions and Budapest Film. Any unrecognized characters are mine.
After this chapter, there's just the epilogue. I'll probably leave the poll for a week or so after it's finished, but don't forget to vote on it. Like I said, if you can't, whether it's because you're anonymous or are primarily on mobile, tell me in a review which of the choices you'd vote for (for those who can't see the poll, they are 1) Epic/Walking Dead crossover; 2) Undertale; 3) Mario; and 4) King of the Sanctuary rewrite and overhaul) and I'll mark those down to count towards the votes. I wish that this website could add polls to the mobile site, it would make things a lot easier.
It was the following afternoon when Froglip and Irene finally caught up to Angelica and the goblins. They were all camped out by the entrance to the tunnel, with the cart and creature sat off to the side.
As soon as they saw them coming, the goblins surrounded Froglip, cheering that he was alive, and asking all sorts of questions. He glanced at Irene, who nodded with a soft smile. He needed to tell his people about what happened and see who was still alive. Above her, he had a duty to his people.
As they walked away from the crowd, Angelica approached her former princess. She still looked nervous, but she also looked very relieved to see her friend was all right. "What happened?" she asked.
"The castle collapsed," she answered thickly.
"Froglip theorized that the tunnel beneath the castle made the ground too weak. Not to mention it sat on the edge of the cliff, and had been weakened because of the flood ten years back."
"Do you know if anyone survived?"
"We couldn't go back. So... I don't know."
"... I'm sorry," she said quietly, wringing her hands.
"I'm sorry too. It was a good home, with many memories, both good and bad. But soon we'll have a new home, with new memories to make."
"Glump—the brown goblin, he said we're going to Skewer Summit?"
"Yes, we are. Froglip is confident that we can hold it against any intruders."
"With so few goblins?"
Irene turned to the group that the goblin king was speaking to. Indeed, including him and Glump, there were significantly less goblins than she remembered from both days and years ago. She could easily count at least ten from her distance. "Perhaps some goblins survived and will find their way to the mountain?"
"Well, wherever you go, I will follow," Angelica said in a surprisingly firm voice.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Irene smiled. "I will warn you though, it won't be easy. It certainly wasn't easy traveling with Froglip for the first few days. And I don't mean simply the act of traveling," she chuckled.
"No, it won't be," her handmaiden agreed. "The other goblins have been calling me 'Sunblood'. I didn't quite understand what it meant, though Glump seemed horrified."
"Did he explain what it meant?"
"He said it was a very dirty word for someone who was half-goblin and half-Sun-Person. He told me that if I heard anyone calling me it, I should tell Froglip. But I've been used to names and jeers, and it didn't hurt me personally when they called me Sunblood, so I'm not worried about it. I'll worry about it when they start to physically assault me."
"Maybe Froglip can teach you some defensive moves. He taught me some when two Sun-m-!"
Angelica turned to her with an astonished expression. "What did they do to you?!"
"Nothing! Froglip made sure of that!"
"The fact that he had to teach you to defend yourself means something happened!"
"Angelica, trust me, they barely laid a hand on me. I only asked him to teach me in case something else happened. And that is the reason you should ask him to teach you, so you know sooner rather than later in case you get in trouble."
"You won't ask him to teach me yourself?"
"As much as I'd like to, it's your decision if you want to learn."
"... I'll think on it."
"He's a good teacher," she smiled, watching him as he continued to speak with the goblins. He looked both concerned and determined at the same time. He looked the very picture of a leader, both in his appearance and attitude. She had no doubt that he would make a good king.
"So, you and Froglip had some alone time?" Angelica actually grinned serpentine-like.
"Angelica, how scandalous of you to suggest!" Irene gasped, laying a hand on her chest. But her expression told her handmaiden that she wasn't angry at the accusation. "But yes, we have. In fact... he asked me to court him."
Angelica gasped and clasped her hands at her chin, looking positively starstruck. "And what did you say?!"
"I said yes, of course," she blushed, fiddling with her cloak.
"And someday, you'll be his queen!"
"One step at a time, my friend. One step at a time."
As soon as he was surrounded by the still-squabbling goblins, Froglip raise a hand to silence them. "Did any of you see what happened during the earthquake?"
The goblins all either shook their heads or said they hadn't. "Well, the castle collapsed." He held his breath, waiting for their reaction. This would determine if his theory was correct.
Everyone looked absolutely astonished. But a few also looked nervous. "Any idea as to how that occurred?" He raised an eyebrow, glancing between the nervous-looking goblins.
One dark-green goblin raised a hand. He was an obese creature, with a bald head covered by a pink pointed hat, a long lumpy face, and wore dark-blue pants. He removed his hat and explained, "I heard some of the goblins—the ones not here, mind ye. They was sayin' they was gonna collapse the castle. They was tired of bein' afraid of the Sun-People, an' that they was angry you was gonna take the princess with us."
"How many of these goblins said this?"
"Oh, a bunch, Yer Majesty," he replied. "Most of 'em stole away while you an' the others was goin' up to get the princess."
"And those goblins were lost when the castle collapsed," he sighed. Well, good riddance to them. If they were so angry about me taking Irene that they didn't leave while they could, and sniveled about it behind my back, they weren't trustworthy anyway.
"Do you think our kingdom is in ruins now?" a female goblin asked, clutching the hand of her small child.
"I don't know, but seeing as the main tunnel connected to it, and once one tunnel collapses the rest follow... I'd say it's likely that it's gone."
All of the goblins' ears tilted in grief over their home. They remained in solemn silence until another child asked, "Wha' now?"
"We make for Skewer Summit!" Froglip declared, standing up straight. "I said we would be going there, and go there we shall! Anyone else who shares the opinions with the banished and crushed goblins, this is your last chance to leave."
But nobody moved. Some of the mother goblins held their children close, as if worried they would want to leave. He recognized that some of these goblins had lost family members—older children, brothers and sisters, husbands, parents. They couldn't afford to lose any family they had left.
The group continued on through the forest, following Froglip's lead. Irene marched alongside him, sometimes grasping his hand and lacing their fingers together. They ignored the whispers behind them; they could have sworn they heard others hiss to ignore it and not look if they hated it. "He's our king now! The king can do what he likes!" one goblin said.
Some of the goblins—mostly children and older goblins—rode in the cart that was pulled by the large creature. Sometimes when she was tired, Irene would climb on alongside Glump, who was driving it. He even taught her to steer when she asked to. When she asked if the creature had a name, he shook his head. "My ol' friend, Mump—he's gone now—he was the primary driver. He never really named him... well, he called him names. Nasty names."
"I see," she remarked, looking down at the creature. "Well, I suppose I'll have to think of one. What ones do you think would suffice?"
She nodded with a soft smile, adjusting her cape pin and necklace. Froglip had returned the necklace, insisting that it was better around her neck rather than his. But he refused to take back the cape. "I already have one," he had remarked, sweeping the fur up so it covered half of his face, making her giggle. "Besides, as I said before, it suits you."
"Well, let's see," Glump hummed, tapping his chin with his claws. "He likes swimming, and is used to pull rocks... Basalt? Gabbro?... Riverstone?"
They both laughed at the last suggestion. "How about something simple... like Pebbles?"
Glump glanced down at the creature with an inquisitive expression. "Hmmm... Pebbles... yep, that sounds about right," he nodded.
The creature surprisingly caught on quick to his new name. Whenever the goblins called him anything else, he simply ignored them until Irene called him Pebbles. He had grown fond of her, taking to nuzzling her shoulder and gurgling with delight when she petted his head and scratched behind his "ears". The goblins had grumbled about stupid creatures and Sun-People, but still didn't pose a further threat.
Soon, they reached a familiar river. Froglip barely gave it a nervous glance, instead leading the group to and across the giant tree trunk. Pebbles glanced at the log and back at the cart nervously as he passed over it, but they made it without any casualties.
And they found the Mountain Man's cabin. When Froglip checked, the door was still unlocked. He didn't see anyone inside, nor any evidence that anyone had used the house.
Irene refused to enter the cabin. "It would be disrespectful," she had explained. "And I just... I just don't feel comfortable, knowing it was my fault that he died."
Froglip simply sighed instead of trying to convince her that it wasn't her fault he had been killed. Instead, he closed the door, and they continued on their way to Skewer Summit.
By the time evening fell and the stars and moon were out, they had made it to the edge of the forest. In the moonlight, they could see Skewer Summit in the distance. But Froglip insisted that they stopped for the night regardless. "Come the morning, we'll have plenty of time and energy to make the mountain our new home," he explained. "And once we're settled in, we'll decide how much territory we'll have the day after."
"Do you really think the goblins that were driven away could come back?" Glump asked as a small band of goblins made off to hunt.
This was news to Irene, and it apparently showed on her face by the way Froglip briefly glared at the shorter goblin. "Maybe," he said slowly. "But perhaps when we tell them of how Irene and I drove the wolves away and killed Dirtclaw... perhaps we'll have an opportunity to expand our kingdom."
Within an hour, everyone had full bellies and were settling down to sleep. Froglip leaned back against a large tree, holding Irene in his arms. She lay against his chest, trailing her fingers along the bite scar on his arm. She chuckled at the crisscrosses on the teeth marks. "A forever reminder that I'm a terrible sewer," she remarked.
"It got the job done right, so it doesn't really matter," he shrugged, running his claws through her hair.
"Do you think the goblins that Dirtclaw chased away could return? That they would try to reclaim their territory?"
"The thought crossed my mind, yes," he confessed, hugging her tighter against him. "Once rumors fly about that the wolves are gone, yet it's still inhabited, they'll come. They probably didn't go very far."
"And you think they'll join us?"
"Why not? We chased away the wolves that took their home, and killed the leader that instigated the takeover. What reason would they have to not join?"
He sighed heavily, and laid his chin on the top of her head. "If they won't join purely because I am courting a Sun-Person... then our kingdom has no room for them."
"But the other goblins don't approve, and you're letting them stay. Besides, you need to expand your-our clan, or else it won't last."
"-Don't chase away goblins just for me. Let them create worse reasons for turning them away, not just them not liking me." She moved her head out from under his and looked up at him sternly. "I won't let us suffer because of me. I'll learn to earn their respect, and become a queen that goblins would be proud to follow, no matter if I was born under the sun or in the tunnels."
His concerned expression melted to one of pride and love. "Spoken like a true queen," he chuckled, kissing her forehead. "All right, I won't chase them away simply for looking at you the wrong way."
"Thank you." She snuggled closer to him and sighed, "I was prepared to die, you know? I had hurt my people terribly, and was ready to pay for my sins. But you know what?"
"I'm glad that I'm alive. Because I'm with you, and I got to tell you how I feel."
"... I'm glad you're alive too," he whispered.
I've been thinking about it, and I've decided I'm not going to post an epilogue like I was originally planning. It wouldn't add anything to the story; it would have simply told the outcome of the castle collapsing, and Curdie being out and about and spotting Froglip and Irene hunting together, with the latter wearing new clothes...
... That's something that can be described better in the sequel :3
Yep, I'll be writing a sequel to this. I have a couple of ideas (both of which are foreshadowed in this story; one of which is obvious, while the other is a throwaway line) But that won't be for a long time. I want to let this story "settle" and write one or two different stories before I tackle a sequel. Especially because it will give me time to stew over the plotline and new characters.
That being said, I'll be leaving the poll up for a little bit longer (maybe throughout the rest of February) Once I've decided enough is enough, I'll close the poll and let the results be public, and will start on the plot. A couple of people have voted, but I still want to hear other people's opinions. So I'm urging everyone to go vote; if you can't, comment on this chapter and let me know which option you would choose (choices are in the A/N at the beginning of this chapter) and I'll count it to the final results.
It's been a blast getting back into writing. I've developed new ways of writing as a whole, and I think it's really improved it. Thanks everyone, for reading and reviewing, and hopefully I'll start to cook up the plot for my next one :)