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"If a knife or a fire-steel be cast at him, he will burst, and must let fall what which he is carrying." A legend recorded by folklorist Joseph Snowe from a place called Alte Burg in 1839 tells of a creature "in the shape of a short, thick-set being, neither boy nor man, but akin to the condition of both, garbed in a party-coloured loose surcoat, and wearing a high-crowned hat with a broad brim on his diminutive head." Some kobolds resemble small children. Before any of us could rise to examine it, four more lights appeared almost simultaneously, about the same shape, and varying only in size.Surrounding each one was the dim outline of a small human figure, black and grotesque, more like a little image carved out of black shining wood, than anything else I can liken them to.The kobold (occasionally cobold) is a sprite stemming from Germanic mythology and surviving into modern times in German folklore.Although usually invisible, a kobold can materialize in the form of an animal, fire, a human being, and a candle.These beliefs spread, becoming the kobold, the Germanic gnome, In contrast, Humorists William Edmonstoune Aytoun and Theodore Martin (writing as "Bon Gaultier") have proposed that the Norse themselves were the models for the mine kobold and similar creatures, such as dwarfs, goblins, and trolls; Norse miners and smiths "were small in their physical proportions, and usually had their stithies near the mouths of the mines among the hills." This gave rise to myths about small, subterranean creatures, and the stories spread across Europe "as extensively as the military migrations from the same places did".German writer Heinrich Smidt believed that the sea kobolds, or Klabautermann, entered German folklore via German sailors who had learned about them in England.
Kobolds who live in human homes wear the clothing of peasants; those who live in mines are hunched and ugly; and kobolds who live on ships smoke pipes and wear sailor clothing. Most commonly, the creatures are house spirits of ambivalent nature; while they sometimes perform domestic chores, they play malicious tricks if insulted or neglected.Fiery kobolds are also called drakes, draches, or puks.