The Fae of the Woods
The air felt heavy and smelt of rain. A sensation Beren easily remembered as he tested the senses of the body he inhabited. He assumed it was the body of a scorn soldier who escaped to the woods only to end up in Vex’s weary working hands. He turned towards his favor that the body responded fairly well to his movements, as he quickly followed in pursuit of Vex and behind her the wendigo Riken. Caressing his fingertips along a large tree trunk feeling the damp moss, he thought of all the possible questions that he had been rehearsing to ask for the past half hour. Yet proved discouraged as most of his questions concerning the scorn and Vex would only create a lingering yet hallow sense of conversation. That in itself would only spark Vex’s response in curt emotionless retorts. Instead he focused on the world around him taking in the environment as he followed on pondering who exactly the fae of the woods was.
“The fae, what are they?” Beren asked out loud his voice sounding decrepit and fatigued, as if a dying mans last breath was escaping his lungs with each forced word. He felt the rumble in his lungs as they sputtered when releasing the pressure to give the air to form his words. Looking ahead he noticed Vex turn and walk backward as she looked at him with an obscure face. Her finger on her chin and an eyebrow raised. Almost as if curiosity and confusion were a betwixt for her judgement. Turing back around she laid both hands behind her head as she walked onward as if thinking on the subject before responding.
“Sometimes I forget you are human and know nothing of the true world around you.” She stated curtly as if his ignorance of the matter was but a minor annoyance. “The fae as you so casually asked were the first beings to walk this earth. Created by the almighty first Thought itself.” She explained as she rummaged her hair bringing her arms down to her side in a quick stretch.
Beren continued to walk behind feeling even more confused with the answer he was given. As a child his village never spoke much of religion or the ways of creation of life. In fact, whenever the subject would leave his lips to an elder he would simply be minded that things are the way they are and to enjoy what he had been given. Complacency in that matter as a child only left his mind soft and oblivious to what truly occurred in the world. Magic, gods and vile creatures he only heard rumors of, now coming to life only after he had died, made everything seem trivial in the form of a perfunctory fable.
“The original fae or the great elders of them created the lesser creatures of the world. The birds the rodents the feral and even some of the beast of burden.” Vex added as she heaved herself over a larger boulder grunting in response, her wounded body obviously not fully healed from her encounter with Ragnar. “The more prominent intelligent creatures like the Grell and the Skech were a result of the war against the primal lords if the history books back in Roush were correct.” She rambled on as if she was reveling in her days as an aspiring practitioner of magical arts in the great magi city of Roush before the ransacking.
Beren thought back as he easily climbed over the boulder his body responding slowly but effectively to the endurance feat. He had heard of an avian type of race that lived in the rock mountains of the north called the Skech. Vile creatures who were nick named the man eaters. They tore at their flesh and used their skin as hides for shelter against the ceaseless storm. The scorn had only pushed them so far out but never conquered past the slopes of their territory. He did recall however the creatures of the Grell. He recalled a wounded Wemar veteran who was blinded in battle, having lived out his days in the inn becoming intoxicated with the watered-down mead that was present.
He would listen almost every night as he told tales of the great highland dessert to the south of the capital. And how a small army of tall lanky creatures attacked them in the night. They possessed tight grey skin that gleamed in the moonlight while adoring themselves with the body parts and bones of humans as if war trophies. They held about them an aura of savagery as the older Grell had ridges grow atop their heads as if crowns. They had a few pointed long tusks and boney claws that could shred armor with ease. The veteran never lived past a few winters but Beren felt the awe of fear and grandeur surround the marvelous war stories even to date.
“Why would the fae create such abysmal creatures?” Beren finally asked as he wiggled his fingers noticing a few maggot crawling on his hands in earnest hunger for flesh.
“To fight the primal lords of course.” She responded rather quickly as if it was common knowledge. “It was an event called the planar war and every able bodied fae worked together to imprison the lords under the earth for all eternity. However, it came at the price of their combined power and even the lives of their elders. Hence the reason there are so few of them left, their power now miniscule to what they once had.” She ended with a gruff as she lifted a branch so that Riken could pass under it without breaking a construct of nature. Turning her yellow eyes to Beren she cocked her head before continuing. “The humans are the result of the primal lords sealed power and in essence are your ancestors. Or so the legends foretold, take it with a grain of salt when other races of the world despise you. They can hold a grudge for a long time even through blood lines.”
Beren followed in pursuit ducking under the large low hanging branch as he slid his hand along the wet muddy ground in hopes of keeping his footing. He was not aware that his race was the result of a war. When in fact he just assumed he existed like any other creature would have. Not bred and created out of hate and spur of revenge towards the fae and their creations. Shaking his head in confusion he bit his lip and tried to understand all that was being presented to him in an order that made sense to him.
“This fae we are about to see. You stated she is the last known one?” Beren asked as he stood up straight as wet ferns caressed his rotting skin with a gentle touch.
“Indeed, even before the ransacking of Roush there were few fae left living in the city. Most had made the pilgrimage to the forgotten temple of Agot to the east. While the rest migrated to their homeland to the west across the great sea, now encompassed by a great fog. The Fae of the woods shall we say is one of the oldest living fae known. And is the procurator to the creation of all goblins.” She stated before looking back with a sly grin. “You know to help fight the primal lords. However, when the war ended she was kind enough to not let her creations run rampant as the other creations had done. Instead she bound her kin to this forest and took a select few and taught them the magic of the fae. Slowly in turn through a few generations the pygmies were born. And here I am to date as living proof of a child of fae.” She exclaimed as if proud of her rather robust and vile heritage despite its shortcoming.
Smirking to himself he could see the resemblance of a pygmy and a goblin more clearly in his mind. Especially after the skirmish in the forest not too long ago. He felt responding with a rather witty remark towards her gruff and pompous explanation of her race’s creation but felt better of it. Instead decided to smirk and use this as ammunition should the time ever arise to put Vex in her place.
“We are almost there I can feel the leylines converging.” Vex stated as she pointed upwards towards the balcony of the forest where Beren took note of a large white tree boughs with orange leaves swaying softly above. An intriguing oddity in a larger forest where everything was in varying shades of browns and greens. Tightening his fists he trekked onward feeling rather anxious about meeting a fae for the first time. Even feeling rather paranoid for the fact of the back story Vex had explained but moments ago. He had half wished upon that moment he had never asked for a curt history lesson in all earnest. His feet soon met a mossy ground as no dirt became visible as he followed in pursuit of Vex and Riken, he took notice of them entering a large clearing with the sun bearing down upon a single yet immensely large white tree with orange leaves. Looking around as he shielded his eyes letting them adjust to the sunlight, he took note of an almost perfect circular perimeter around the white tree. The moss itself a perfect thick carpet for whomever was its majesty. The trunk of the tree looked aged and weather but expressed its power in the sheer girth of size. It rose above the other trees as its boughs and branches extended outward the orange leaves illuminating the sunlight in an almost blinding fashion upon the white bark.
His attention soon gave way as Riken let out an audible hiss as if pleased before walking up to the tree caressing its trunk, Ragnar’s leg clutched in his other hand still unconscious and oblivious. Vex let out a giggle as she followed in suit her hands behind her back as she skipped forward, her jerkin swaying with her movement in a rather childish fashion. Standing still he heard the rustle of foliage above in the tree top as he seen an obscure figure glide downwards in a sleeking yet unsettling motion. Interested yet rather anxious he stepped forward into the clearing as the sound of moss beneath his feet made barely a sound in protest. He stopped but feet away from his comrades as he watched the shadows in the trees get closer in a slow anticipated entrance.
“It has been a long-time lost children.” Stated a voice within the tree, the sound echoing downwards. Its tone rather feminine in nature but with a hint of age and maturity. Beren stood vigilant his arms by his sides, his rotting hands clenched into fists hoping the pressure of flesh would calm him. It did not however, he had not felt this sensation since he died, yet there it was hindering his senses making him feel more mortal than he truly was. His blood shot eyes eagerly observed the tree waiting and anticipating seeing a fae for the first time.
“Did you bring me a decrepit snack or is this but another puppet in your service Valexia Windsong.” The voice asked as a shadow could be made out as it slithered down towards the trunk of the tree.
“A companion more or less.” Vex replied, her nose curling up displeased with hearing her full name being used.
Beren removed his eyes from Vex then back to the tree once more. If his heart could beat out of his chest it would have. Soundless and appearing as if out of thin air the top half of a woman’s body could be seen appearing from behind the trunk of the tree. He heard an off-scuttling sound nearby but was removed by the notion as he stood curious and wanting. Peering his eyes, he noticed her skin had a milky bark like texture similar to the tree itself. Her hair ineptly moss itself with small white flowers blossoming from it. His fear suddenly grew as she turned towards the group revealing her face. There transfixed in a horrific yet divine elegance was her eyes. For there was none, instead inside her sockets were two blossoming sunflowers. The black pits giving a fake representation of a pupil, while the yellow petals her iris. She held no nose just a simple ridge where one should be. Her ears long orange leaves that appeared to have a veiny texture unique compared to the rest of the leaves. Two long yet thin brown twigs could be noted protruding from her temple as if an antennae or eyebrows. She appeared to be naked but held no anatomy of a human. Instead from her head to her navel was the figure of a woman but in a fashion as if mocking one. He was taken back however as the fae fully left behind the tree revealing her lower regions. Her upper body sat upon a large insectoid type of body. A centipede. Holding his breath he watched as she slowly moved forward, the scuttling of large pointed legs stabbing themselves into the ground pulling her forward in an eerie sense as if searching for their next prey. The body of the centipede matched her torso. Instead of legs they were shaped tree branches that moved along the ground in stiff yet deliberate movements. The hint of red upon them as if they embraced soft flesh not too long ago. The trunk of her body almost matched the tree itself, yet held patterns of orange both terrifying and mesmerizing. Her body moved gracefully as her multitude of legs pulled forward a large long centipede body. Looking up he noticed the rest of the centipede figure was still wrapped up into the boughs of the tree. She approached the group setting herself in front of the tree with both her hands at her front eyeing everyone present. Her hands looked as if they were roots plucked from the ground. A dirty brown with only three thick roots present to vaguely resemble finger extremities. Her centipede body raising up wards as she held a taller stature even to that of Riken. Whom in his own right appear to kneel and grovel before her in minor hisses and groans. Beren looked to Vex and noticed a faint smile escaping her lips as if seeing true beauty present itself before her.
“A companion more or less?” The fae asked as she rolled her head forwards and peered towards Beren with an uncertain glance. As if studying a specimen or rather a meal that was uncooked. Her mouth moved as would any humans, but her face appeared to be wooden in nature resulting in her face never appearing to leave its elegant emotionless expression. Her face then feel to the unconscious Ragnar upon the ground, leg still clutched tightly by Riken as if a toy a child was refusing to part with.
“And you bring a harbinger of water, a blood line child of a primal lord.” The fae stated as she lowered her stature to peer at the body of Ragnar in a rather curious manner. Her face then fell upon Riken himself, the same large monstrous body whose own horns around his head felt trivial to the sheer size of the fae before him.
“The forest, though faint says you are leaving soon.” Vex stated as her smile left her lips, as her face fell into state that took akin to hiding sadness. Her lips tight and her eyelids held half open, gave way to this assumption. The fae simply eyed Vex before taking her position in front of the large white tree. An orange leaf landing softly on the ground between them as silence became an unwelcomed visitor. Beren stood vigilant uncertain of what Vex had stated.
“It is true child, I have been granted a permanent audience with the soul warden itself and will soon depart this world.” The fae stated as her wooden lips slowly formed into a smile. As if a mother was comforting a child on the concept of death and family. “I knew you would return eventually so I stayed and waited. Even sent my children to look after you as you groveled in that grave you called home.” The fae explained as she raised a hand as a few insects both winged and wingless were laid to the bark of the tree behind her. “I heard you removed my teaching of nature and took to a celestial type of magic. Death and rebirth.” The fae went on as she brought her hand back to her front crossing the other as if a mother was beginning to scold her daughter.
“If you have been watching me you know my reasons.” Vex began shaking her head with distaste her eyebrows pointing downwards and her cheeks sunken. “I would like to catch up with you, but I have a favor to ask.” Vex began as she pointed to both Riken and Ragnar.
The fae simply smiled as she raised a finger towards Beren. “And of the spirit?”
Vex turned her gaze towards Beren who appeared to have not uttered a word during the entirety of the encounter. His face was stern though not his to begin with. His hands still gripped in fists as if the pressure of flesh though rotting helped give him a sense of security. He observed the two who eyed him with a peculiar look, then to Vex who simply shrugged in a nonchalant manner.
“Make it quick, they are not that hard to make.” She stated before turning back to the fae who in turn nodded and pointed towards Beren. The sound of centipede legs quickly making their way to him from the back. Looking behind he noticed a plethora of large centipedes and spiders as big or as long as a human arm make their way to his rotting corpse. Their legs scrambling atop the moss as they bounded over each other trying to make their way to quite possibly a meal. His mind suddenly going frantic he slipped on the moss beneath him eyeing the insects as they began to converge on his body. Sharp mandibles and striking legs encroaching upon his body.