Nocker Goes to Ironfell

Pooka and Eshu are talking together. Pooka is boasting of its prowess at storytelling, and challenges Eshu to a contest. Pooka goes first and tells an incredible tale.

Then Eshu tells a story, and it is better told and of greater significance than Pooka's. [A story of first discovery of some vital part of the Dreaming - it can't be Arcadia, surely, but somewhere of similar importance (or somewhere within Arcadia).]

Pooka then says that it can go wherever it wants to in the Dreaming, and no one can keep it out (witness the last story). But Eshu counters that Pooka cannot go to places that Eshu has not already been.

Pooka then says that it is the bravest of the faeries, because there is no trouble that it cannot extricate itself from. Eshu replies that it has no fear of anything in the Dreaming, and to demonstrate that it will go to wherever the Dreaming takes it. Pooka takes Eshu up on this, and Eshu goes wandering (promising to tell the story when it gets back).

Eshu wanders about, and comes to Ironfell. It then realises that this is a very bad place, and that no good will come of this discovery. Eshu also realises that now anyone can go to this place, because Eshu has discovered it. However, Eshu goes back and tells Pooka about the place, saying that it must be the worst place in the Dreaming, for it contains a substance which makes brittle the Dreaming. Eshu names the place Ironfell.

Pooka is curious and goes to investigate, and it takes a lump of iron from Ironfell (it burns its hand, which is ever after scarred) and takes it to Lord Dougal. Pooka asks that Dougal make the iron into a box to keep secrets in (no one would want to touch it to open it), but Dougal refuses, telling Pooka to return the iron where it found it, for otherwise it would cause great suffering.

Pooka ignores Dougal and takes the iron to Nocker. At first Nocker also refuses to deal with the substance, but Pooka taunts it with unflattering comparisons to Lord Dougal, and Nocker agrees to make the box.

In working with the iron, Nocker is tainted. It is unwilling to give the box to Pooka, and says that it will only give the box to Pooka after Pooka has shown it where the iron came from. Pooka agrees, and takes Nocker to Ironfell. There Nocker makes shackles and binds Pooka, fearing that Pooka will lead others to this place, and that those others will take the iron away from Nocker. Nocker starts forging various devices, delighting in what it can now accomplish.

Pooka tricks Nocker into releasing it from the shackles (how? Perhaps through a simple appeal to Nocker's greed and pride - "I'll show you where even better stuff is, but you have to take off these shackles, and don't worry because you're strong enough and clever enough to tie me up again" sort of thing) and escapes (without the box).

[As a postscript: Then the Sluagh come to Nocker and make a deal. In return for a number of iron knives, they will protect Nocker from the Dreaming. For, with iron in its blood, and the isolation of Ironfell from the Dreaming destroyed, Nocker is suffering from the Dreaming battle with Ironfell. Nocker forges the knives, and the Sluagh blunt the Dreaming's attempts to destroy Ironfell. After the Sluagh break their Oaths they are no longer in a position to protect Nocker, and the Dreaming manages to cast Ironfell out of itself, so that it becomes the separate mortal world.]