Friday, May 11, 2018

Where the Elfbane Blooms

Where the Elfbane Blooms
Bobby Derie

Before the time of iron, when grey swords made of every Jack a giant-killer, there were those who stalked the first woods. In the shade of the great trees was endless twilight, and every bush on the game-trail might lay an ambush, and every tempting glade a trap for the unwary. Children were lost in great circle-dances, and some of them dance there still.

They called them heroes, who brought back their grisly trophies, skulls like stunted children strung around their necks by greasy strings. Most died young, hide pierced by elf-shot that did not heal, the blood running freely as they drank in the low halls, where they spoke the tale. Some by chance, others by skill. They were not all great men and women, for the cunning to out-wit an elf is sometimes carried by the low, and even dead-eyed children may wield a knife when pressed to it.

These they laid to rest, beneath the earth, and raised up stones over them. There was no way to carve the names, then, but the stone itself was a memory, to men and elves. The trophies were buried at their feet, and it is said that the roots of the elfbane mingle skulls and toes, and bind both together. The black blossoms are ever found at one side of the stone only, and reach up toward the waning moon and stars.

There the elfbane blooms, and the mounds are sacred by both kindreds for the honored dead laid there.


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