Hobs

Hobs are a type of household spirit that inhabit some homes and farmsteads in Dornie. They take the appearance of small, malformed creatures the size of a small child with leathery skin, lamp-like eyes and flat, anxious faces, and although their looks are grotesque, they are largely benevolent — sometimes mischievous. When a hob takes up residence at a house or a farm, it comes out only at night when people are asleep to help with chores in exchange for offerings left out by the people who live there, usually porridge, honey, cheese or heavy cream.

Because they are nocturnal, and because they do not like to be seen, sightings of hobs in and around Dornie are few and far between but their existence is not disputed by the community. When they are seen, it's usually out of the corner of somebody's eye by lamp or candlelight, though there are some people — mostly children — who claim to have had conversations with the hob living on their property, though they are said not to be very intelligent and have a poor grasp on human language.

Mischievous hobs have a reputation for playing tricks on the people they share their home with, putting things back where they do not belong, breaking dishes, leaving muddy footprints on the floor, causing the walls of a house to creak, and banging on pots and moaning when people are trying to sleep. Occasionally, this behaviour manifests during the daytime as objects being moved around or hurled about without apparent cause.

Very rarely are hobs malevolent, but when they are it becomes a serious cause for concern. Malevolent hobs have been known to cause property damage to neighboring houses, set fires and attack livestock. In extreme cases, they try to smother people while they're asleep, or kidnap small children to butcher and consume them (though they are usually courteous enough to return the bones and bloodstained clothing). What turns a helpful hob into a murderous one is something of a mystery, but a popular theory is that their temperament reflects the state of the household where they live, and that negative experiences are more likely to occur when the people living with the hob are unhappy or angry, or there is an underlying source of strife that hobs are sensitive to and influenced by.

Malevolent hobs can be almost impossible to get rid of once they settle in. A typical hob, however, can be dismissed by referring to the offerings left out as 'payment', refusing to leave offerings, or by leaving the hob a set of clothes, which it takes great offense to and will cause it to move on to another household.