We’ve hit one of those days again – a mythical creature who isn’t represented in any particular form in media. There’s the obvious reference from Game of Thrones, and a variety of others, but due to the mischievous nature of the imp, this trait is often overused, as is their link to witches and warlocks. In Germanic folklore imps are seen as lesser goblins, and in most cases they are small, unattractive and wild creatures. Some say imps are the offspring of the devil.
Imps are sometimes considered to be fairies, they have also been compared to genies and in some cases can grant wishes. This is represented in The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson – a kind of genie in a bottle story. In Jack the Giant Killer (1962), reference is made to the imp in a bottle, though this creature is actually a leprechaun.
I researched the imp before writing my fantasy story The Contract, and decided to put my own spin on these mischievous creatures. I named them hympes, a race led by Hympe King, Tobias Locke, and had a great deal of fun creating their history. As The Contract will be released at the end of the month, I decided to share a snippet with you today.
The main protagonist is a witch named Maddison, who is a freelance mercenary. She allows herself to be captured in order to find Tobias Locke. In the following scene she is locked in a cell – I cut to the section which reflects my interpretation of the hympe.
Excerpt from The Contract
Testing her magic, she used second sight to explore her surroundings. The image was strong and clear; she was in a six by eight foot cell. Aside from the pit in the centre, she found nothing out of the ordinary.
Her hands were bound above her head, connected to a thick, coiling chain which linked to matching cuffs at her ankles. There was something odd about her binds. For one, she could feel the low hum of power in her hands. Her hair stretched reflexively, winding around the chains and testing the cold metal.
Someone was bound to the restraints. She felt it like a punch to the gut, and for an awful moment thought it might be Tobias. She pushed out, seeking the energy, feeling the pain. The connection jolted through her, momentary and yet stronger than anything she’d felt before.
Her eyes blinked open. It took a moment to adjust to the darkness. As she waited, she chanted softly, her hair still curled around the chain. She felt the moment the metal gave way. The cuffs on her hands and feet went with it and she was free.
A man crouched beside her. She could see an outline but nothing more. Taking one of the gold rings from her hair, she tossed it between them and waited for the soft glow to reach him.
His eyes took her by surprise; a dark, stormy grey. He was broken, barely holding it together, and angry she had summoned his true form.
“What’s your name?” she asked, her gentle tone shocking her.
There goes my reputation.
“What difference does it make?” he said, his voice rusty from disuse. “They’re going to kill you, force me to absorb your death, and then it will start all over again when they drag in their next prisoner.”
“I’m not that easy to kill.”
He eyed her warily before glancing at the light between them.
Maddison didn’t take her eyes from him. He had the finely sculptured features typical of a hympe. They were often described as small and ugly creatures. Nothing could have been further from the truth, not in their true form at least. There were many forms, including those forced upon them during the trials. His face could never be described as ugly, even the darkness she saw reflected in his eyes had a painful beauty.
He was tall, judging from the long limbs. Not as tall as Tobias though, or as pretty.
And where the hell did that come from?
“How long is left on your contract?” she asked.
His laugh was bitter, a hollow sound which told her how close he was to the edge. “You think I give a shit about the trials? Two years or twenty, I won’t make it to the end of the year.”
“In that case, why don’t I make it easy for you?” She didn’t want to fight him. Something about him pulled at her. She was testing him.
He snorted. “Spare me.”
“Aw, is the poor little imp feeling-”
His hand shot out, but she was quicker. Her braid snagged his wrist before it reached her, a mistake she recognised too late. Her hair was the most sensitive part of her magic, and since his senses were now wide open, the connection fused them with the force of their combined power.
That’s about all I wanted to say about the imp, so now it’s over to you. What stories, if any, do you remember? How do you envisage these creatures? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time.