Three weeks prior.
With his black-taloned hand, Gnash selected a bat skin from the workbench. Slowly, he moved the skin back and forth, polishing a large sheet of obsidian. The reflections cast on the rock’s mirrored surface gleamed with an unearthly distortion.
“Are you done yet?”
Gnash turned to see his fellow hobgoblin at the cave entrance. His blue-black skin made him appear as little more than a shadow against the light. “Damion! Almost. Here, help me set it up.”
Damion entered the cave, folding his wings carefully to avoid knocking anything over. The two hobgoblins picked the mirror off the workbench and set the frame’s legs on the ground. The mirror stood taller than them, as tall as a man, and nearly half as wide.
“Let’s see! Let’s see! Oh, I look positively hideous!” Damion said as he gazed into the mirror. He ran a hand across his bald head, feeling well-formed horns. Reflected by the mirror, the horns appeared twisted, with large cracks and gashes. “What else can I look at?”
“Have a look around the shop,” suggested Gnash as he took off his heavy leather work apron, leaving him wearing nothing but his course, black hair.
Damion adjusted his angle to examine the cave’s reflection.
“Look at all the cobwebs and spiders.” When he turned to look directly at the wall, Damion could see few webs, one or two at the most. “If there are any spiders there, they are too small to see.”
“Did you bring a flower?” asked Gnash.
Damion reached into a bag slung over his shoulder and brought out a crocus blossom. They both looked at the reflection. “It’s all thorns! And worms! The flower can hardly be seen!”
“All that is good is shrunk,” started Gnash.
“All that is bad is magnified.” Damion finished the mantra all their clan had recited over and over these last few months during the construction of their new device. “With this we can show everyone the way the world really is.” The two started laughing, a dry, crackling, and horrid sound.
“Get the others. Let’s take this someplace fun,” Damion said.
Gnash walked to the cave’s entrance and called the tribe. He watched as more hobgoblins left their caves and flew to the ledge outside the workroom.
Damion pointed to a couple of the new arrivals. “You two! Come here and help us get this outside,” he ordered. Together, they carried the mirror onto the ledge.
Several hobgoblins gathered about, all looking and cackling away. Soon they started debating where to take their creation first.
“How about that road down there?” asked one, pointing downhill to a clear gap between the trees far below their mountainside home. Through the trees they could see a road winding its way through the forest.
“Nah, too few travelers. I want to hear screams now,” replied Damion.
“Have you looked at the forest in the mirror?” asked another. “It all looks like mounds of boiled spinach!”
“Stop gawking and suggest something!” scolded Damion, slapping her away. The blow sounded like one rock hitting another.
“How about a village? We should find lots of people there!”
“There’s one not too far away, I don’t remember its name,” one said near the back. “It’s the one with that new Queen, the ice princess I think she’s called? You know, the one with all the ice powers?”
“Snow Queen!” another said, slapping the first on the back of the head.
“I believe that’s Arendelle,” said Gnash. “Showing the Snow Queen her reflection in the mirror could be fun. Maybe she would cause another disaster.”
“Wait!” said Damion. “I think I got a better idea. If we want to show the mirror to beings with Power, how about this?” He leaned forward and whispered something into Gnash’s ear.
“Oh, that sounds perfect! They think they’re all so good, so flawless. The mirror will show them what they really are. But the only way to get the mirror to them would be to fly it. And it’s heavy.”
Pointing to a nearby mountain, Damion said, “We’ll carry it up there first. We’ll start higher, so we will not have to fly as far. And there’s a road most of the way to the top.”
The entire tribe, more than a hundred strong, gathered about the mirror. “You four, take the corners of the mirror, and fly it down,” directed Damion. “Everyone else, get clear. I don’t want anyone flying and crashing into anyone.”
They tipped the mirror backwards until the frame was horizontal. The four designated hobgoblins each took a corner and extended their wings. With a few wing beats they became airborne, then easily glided to the road.
Once on the ground, several hobgoblins shouldered the mirror and started working their way uphill, along the road. At any given time, six carried the heavy mirror, like pallbearers carrying a coffin. After a few hours, they met one traveler coming the other way. The stranger’s bravery held until the hobgoblins raised the mirror, showing him his reflection. Then he screamed, and ran in horror. Several minutes passed before the hobgoblins stopped laughing and resumed working their way into the mountains.
Some hours later, they had climbed to a point where the road ran along the top edge of a cliff. Far below them wound the ocean shoreline. They could see a village at the cliff’s base, nestled into the corner of land between the cliff and the seashore.
Damion looked over the edge, to the village below. “I want to see what that village looks like in the mirror. Bring it here, to the edge.” Several hobgoblins brought the mirror to the precipice while he flew a few feet away, hovering with his bat-like wings.
“Now angle it down so I can see. And be careful.”
As the mirror was swung into position, one hobgoblin stepped on another’s foot. “Hey! Stop that!” he said.
“Get your wing out of my face!”
Over balanced, they struggled for control.
“Wait, I’m slipping…”
“Don’t do that!”
“Hold onto the mirror, not my nose!”
“Get your claw OUT OF THERE!”
“Pull it back! Pull it back!” screamed Damion, too late. They lost their grip, and the mirror tumbled over the side. Shocked, they watched their creation fall. After a hundred feet, the mirror struck an outcropping and shattered. The fragments continued to fall, tumbling, striking the cliff face and turning into shards and sand.
Damion landed at the cliff’s edge, screaming. “You are all absolute total idiots! Do you know how hard it was to get the ingredients for that mirror? We’ll never be able to make another!”
They all cowered back from Damion, except Gnash. With a single flap of his wings he hopped to the cliff edge and looked down. “You know, it’s not really gone,” he commented.
“What do you mean? It’s shattered! Dust! Scattered!”
“Even so, that would not break the enchantment. Each little part should continue to possess power. And the shards are scattered across that entire village!”
Damion looked at the village, an evil smile twisting across his face. “This might be fun after all. Let’s go look.”