My name is Smudge, and I have a twin brother called Sproggs. My best friend is my doll, Gooseberry, and my favourite snack are crackers with ham.

My twin brother and I live in Ling. It’s a pretty small village, or so people say; it’s a little tricky for me to see that when I’m walking around the biggen houses.

But, Ling is really pretty place to be. There’s this huge market that opens every day and has lots of business. Ma says it’s because a lot of people travel through Ling, which means there’s lots and lots of trade. The food at the market is always really fresh and really yummy, and if I manage to get the biggens to see me over the stall counter, I sometimes get free samples!

Gooseberry always used to remind me not to eat much in-between meals, though, but she never snitched to Ma or Pa. She just looks forward to our next adventure together! Oh, Gooseberry is my best friend, by the way. I made her when I was very small, but I didn’t measure the fabric for her head very well, so she has a very wrinkly neck. So, I just pretend she’s Ma’s age. My Pa, Mr Tapper Icklesmith used to have his very own forge here in Ling, called Little Bellows Forge. This was great because a lot of militia and travellers stop by for repairs. As Sproggs and I were growing up, our Pa taught us lots and lots about smithing; Sproggs was more interested in forging the best weapons, and I learned to detail really, really strong armour!

Recently though, both our Ma and Pa retired and just tend to the piggies now, but they’ve left us with the forge as a workshop, which is good. Sproggs and I both hope to have it up and running again once we’ve adventured a little longer. Ma and Pa have started travelling and doing other stuff old people like to do when they don’t have to work anymore. When I’m older, I like to think Gooseberry and I will still be adventuring, or having tea parties with the really important people like the King. When my parents did work the forge, they often hosted really fun parties and invited the whole town to them. The parties would last all night, with Pa showing off his party piece: dancing on the hot forge without hurting his feet real bad! I think he’s actually a secret super hero and just doesn’t want to be famous.

When Sproggs and I were younger, we pretended to go on adventures outside the village gates. We would visit the lakes and pretended to fight sea monsters, or had battles using test dummies we’d make out of straw pinched from the local stables. It was more fun adventuring late at night because it felt more dangerous!

But, this meant getting in trouble with the guards when Ma and Pa didn’t know where we were. I remember us both being dragged back home all the time, and they’d shout at us for staying out so late. I’ve never liked the guards in Ling. They were always really grumpy, probably because their job involves standing all day and nodding lots.

Unlike them, Sproggs and I have always wanted to be brave adventurers! But, we wanted to take over Pa’s forge, too, especially seeing as Little Bellows is ours now. But, unlike our Ma who was worried about us adventuring, our Pa Tapper wanted us to do both! I guess he knew how much we wanted this, and he believed in us, too! Perhaps it’s because Pa really is a super hero... maybe we have super powers, as well!


There’s only one way to find out.

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