Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Races of Uhl: Grekkels

Each Friday for the next so many weeks I'm going to highlight some aspect of Uhl, the fantasy world in which I set my novels. Posts will include details on Uhl's people, places, races, and more.

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A short excerpt from The Hall of the Wood:

"Leave her, Speck!" the witch screamed from the other side of the dais. "She is not for eating!"

Speck slowed, and then stopped. His teeth remained bared at Holly and she couldn't help but see the venom in his eyes. "Once my mistress is done with you," it said to her, "you shall be a tasty morsel indeed." Speck took a moment so spit in Holly's direction before joining the witch.

When Speck stood at her feet, he said, "I bring that which you have asked for, O Mighty Harbinger of Death, O Patroller Slayer, O Ruler of the Simarron, O—"

"Just give it to me, you insipid little creature!" the witch hissed.

Speck jumped back in surprise. It took him a moment to regain his composure. When he did, he held out a hand to her and something unseen passed between them.

"You have done well, my slave. Now, return to my house and there await my return."

Speck bowed, shooting one last look at Holly—a look that promised retribution—before he left the chamber. The witch returned to her task and Holly wondered if she might fall asleep again when the witch spoke.

"Speck is an annoying little creature, but he serves me well."

Grekkels are the smallest and most devious of the goblin races. They rely upon guile, stealth, their peculiar magical abilities, and general slyness to annoy, distract, and ultimately overcome adversaries. It is their evil dispositions coupled with their joy of creating mischief and chaos which causes people to both fear and loathe them. They are loners by nature, though they will sometimes band together with their own kind  should an opportunity warrant such a union. These sorts of gatherings are always short-lived and, more often than not, end in the grekkels fighting amongst themselves as their greed and unruliness often takes precedence over all else. Grekkels may also be found serving some goblin lord, witch, or dark sorcerer, willingly accepting this role as spy and information gatherer as long as they share in the mischief. They are not fearful of magic just because it is magic, nor are they superstitious. Their humor is crude and sick, often climaxing with the death of some helpless creature. Their laughter is prolonged and hideous.

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Grekkels make their lairs in the Underland or some other dark place. They abhor sunlight and will make forays onto the surface world only at night. Even then, a full moon or an abundance of bright stars will send them scurrying for shelter. They are sexless beings and do not therefore reproduce in the traditional manner. In asexual fashion, they require only a single member of their race to produce offspring. Young reach maturity in about a week's time.

They are omnivores, though they prefer meat of any kind above fruits or vegetables. They will not hesitate to eat carrion, their own kind, or any other humanoid. Though they've no use for money or jewelry, they sometimes collect shiny baubles or trinkets as they seem to be fascinated with such things.

They do not make use of armor to cover their hairy bodies, though they will use short spears or blow guns, as well as their teeth and claws, to attack the unwary. Their preferred method of assault is always from ambush, after having harassed and annoyed their prey with any number of traps, snares, and surprise hit-and-run attacks.

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They stand about two feet tall and are slender to the point of being cadaverous. Their noses are long and hooked, their tails, hairless and spindly, and their arms and legs, gangly. They have only three fingers and an opposable thumb on their hands, with three toes per foot. Grekkel ears are long, flat and perk upwards. Their yellow eyes are slanted with dark, beady pupils. Their chins are long and can be curled when the grekkel so desires it. Tongues are long and skinny. Their lips are black. There exists a strain of grekkel that possess wings, or so it is said.

Grekkels are inherently magical. Their mere presence can have adverse effects: milk will sour, fruit will fall from trees, luck will be spoiled. They can weave nightmares by whispering dread things in the ears of sleepers, and can commune with flies, mosquitoes, spiders, and scorpions. They have the ability to teleport up to a distance as far as they can see. The use of this ability leaves behind the smell of brimstone. They are highly resistant to most forms of magic.

Note from the Author

Grekkels are a truly fun species to write about. More nuisance than anything else, they nevertheless have enough deadly potential to really make things interesting at times. My grekkels are the closest thing I have to the goblins of mythology. At best, they are the small creatures that come out at night when on one is awake and empty the contents of the cupboard, spoil the milk, or steal the blankets from the wee ones on a cold night. Worst case, they slit the throats of everyone inside and make off with their steaming entrails. They're truly wicked creatures.

From an author's perspective, they're about as expendable as mosquitos. No one's going to get upset when you whack one of them. In The Hall of the Wood, I whacked quite a few of them. But what I like about grekkels is that they aren't necessarily hell-bent on killing the protagonists or obeying orders. Their knack for easily being distracted often leads them down a path that might not align with their master's (or even their own) agenda. It's this unpredictability that makes them more than just canon fodder and at least somewhat interesting.

View my gallery of goblins on Pinterest.

Read more about the people and places of Uhl at the World of Uhl.



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