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 Fall of the Elfin-king

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Penumbra
Hatchling
Hatchling


Posts : 12
Join date : 2011-05-03
Age : 28
Location : United States

PostSubject: Fall of the Elfin-king   Mon May 09, 2011 2:51 am

Okay, so this is something I wrote a few years ago after being inspired by two different poems by different authors that featured the same character. Then poems were Der Erlkonig Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe and Erlkonigs Tochter by Johann Gotefried Herder. Part I: The Elfin-king is a re-writing of Goethe's poem and Part II: Sir Oluf is a re-writing of Herder's poem. These poems were done some time in the late 1700's or early 1800's so I am fairly certain that I am not breaking any type of copyright laws. The Prologue and everything after Parts I and II are done completely by me (though honestly, Parts I and II are so vastly different from their poems that I might be able to pass them off as original but choose not to as their content id taken directly from Goethe and Herder's poems) and were simply inspired by the world and characters that Goethe and Herder just barely touched on in their poems.

I am sure you can find the original German poems as well as their literal translations somewhere on the Web. Myself, I found it in a dusty corner of my local library. The literal translations of the poems are not so impressive but if you can find a translation that was not butchered as it was converted from German to English (or better yet, if you can read German) then they are very well written pieces of art (in my mind, that is).

So, as I said before, this a story I started about two or three years ago and honestly have not touched since so it is very incomplete. I remember that my original plan was to simply tell why the Elfin-king was banished to the Shadowlands. Part I is about the Elfin-king himself and Part II is a poem about his three, dismal daughters who happen upon an unfortunate gentleman in the woods.

I hope you enjoy and please, please, please critique, critique, critique! Maybe if I can get some good ideas then I'll be able to continue it.

As an after thought, my writing style is usually not so..., dare I say, poetic? Well, whatever you want to call it, my writing style in this piece is unlike any style I have written in before so I hope you enjoy it. I have been told that it can be difficult to read.
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Fall of the Elfin-king

Prologue: Where No Paths Lead

The Invisible Kingdom is all but impossible to see. It lies within the tall grasses of forests and in the branches of that forest's trees. It is in calm creeks and raging rivers alike, bound even to the deepest depths of the ocean. It is everywhere between the sky and the earth and is always best seen between night and day. Human eyes are quick to catch glimpses of the Invisible Kingdom and it's inhabitants but always slow to keep those precious images. Children are more apt to see them as well as the elderly and those close to death and even then their forms can be fleeting.
Within the Invisible Kingdom is the home of the elves that is known, and not known, by many names among which is the most convenient; Elfland. The roads that lead to Elfland are obscure to human trackers and is only ever set upon by accident. Flora in Elfland is like and unlike anything seen by human eyes with mushroom stalks that rise to the lowest branches of their trees. The plants react to the elves in ways far different than they do for humans which is why alchemy is such a valued practice in the Invisible Kingdom, especially Elfland.
Still, elves and humans share the same sky and even the same forests and trees but Elfland is by far the more fantastical with it's giant mushroom groves visible only to the elves, as well as those who view it from their same angle. Many of hunter lead astray by his game has found himself walking through the walls of Elfland to be suddenly surrounded by sights and sounds he had only ever known in his dreams as a child.
Even with the differences that separate them in to variant existences, elves and humans share the same world and are ruled by the same hopes; damned by the same desires and live according to the whims of Nature. They are both noble and poor; great and wicked. They succumb and they rise. They are born... and they die.

Chapter 1: Theft & Death

Part I: The Elfin-king

Though he moves through the world like a ghost he can still be touched by you and I even while he could never feel our warmth were we to ever try. He would steal our souls and cart them away to his dark kingdom where we would be forced to dance and serve. He would make us promises, all grand to our ears but never could he follow through even if he wanted to. He is an elf of dismal persona and feels only hate and hunger.
He is Alder, the Elfin-king, judged by his peers and banished to the Shadowlands for as long as eternity may be. His body is old and his heart is cold but he is ageless. He is tall, impossibly so, with a character that is both dark and gaunt. It can be seen though in his eyes that are like pale moons that he was once a noble elf; divine even, but all that is left now of his nobility are his clothes, blacker than night.
A cloak that moves with his form like living shadows hides the crest that adorns the tabard covering his dull chain mail. His knee-high black boots leave no imprint in the soft, dead soil of his Shadowland-forest. Perhaps the only attire he wears that is not black is a crown of silver and gold, glinting with jewels to capture the sparkle in the eyes of the young and old.
He owns all the riches of Man's desires and enjoys none of them. If anywhere in his dead land he finds a fruit bearing tree then he can not pick from it, else it shrivels and dies at his touch. Even his own daughters stray from his skeletal fingers that promise only the chill of death.
This night is worst than most, though always it seems that way as the Elfin-king drifts through his halls and his yard, always straining to hear the laughter of the children he captured but always he is deaf to them. His fingers dig in to his palms so hard that if he could he might bleed. A horrible ache pounds at his eyes from the inside and keeps him forever mad. He considers retiring to his chambers, though he knows he will find no rest, but then he is alerted by the rustling of his daughters.
He drifts in to his castle and to the upper floor to watch from a window as his daughters dance back and forth. They don their dresses and finest jewels and Alder knows well what they are planning. A man must be passing through the forest and they look to form their fairy ring that they may tempt him to dance with them inside it.
Even though he knows somewhere deep inside that it is all in vain, he drifts out to the courtyard to scare his daughters away. "Nay, nay you sad harpies. I smell a child with this one and that means he is mine to take."
Minkah cowers at her father's shooing while Ayla only moans. Cianna, the eldest, scowls at him though, but even she knows better and leaves him alone. The Elfin-king loves them, or so he knows he once did, and so he will bring them back this child's soul that it's innocence will bring new life to this gloomy home.
Alder, though is a forgotten name and so when he leaves to grab this child he is only the Elfin-king again.

The hour is midnight, a dreadful time, and a father rides fast through the vines. His skin is dark and like leather, that of a man who works for his life, and he rides faster as he remembers his son and his darling wife. The boy, but maybe ten, has his mother's golden locks that shine like the sun and his skin is fair, not pale.
The black steed carries them strong but Gunther is not satisfied so he spurs the beast to practically fly. The wind is cold but young Haldin feels it little beneath his father's cloak and the mighty moon reflects light to see off the forest's snow. It is not until the berth of the path becomes less that Gunther slows his steed to a measurable pace and it is not until then that the child's heart stops at the sight of a ghastly face.
"Son, why do you cling so tightly? Our pace has slowed and you will not fall if that is what your fear might be."
For moments too long the child chokes on his words, his swollen tongue not letting them past his lips. Alas, though he manages to say, "See there, father, a shade in the shadow as clear as day!"
Gunther chuckles, a sound made funnier by his trotting horse at the imagination that captures his son's eyes. "You've need not fear the shadows of trees. Surely what you spotted was snow pushed by a breeze."
Though he still clings, the son is put at ease. His father is strong, a protector like God, and he knows he need not fear any spirit, ghost or specter. But it does not take long for the bite of winter to sneak through the folds of his father's cloak and suddenly he is shivering. His breath comes out in bursts before him and hangs in the air like a dieing fog.
The forest soon gives way to a swamp and vapors of the past rise from the bog. It is then that the child Haldin hears the voice of the Elfin-king invading his ears. At first he ignores it, combating the sound with his father's logic, but the voice turns to words and he knows he can't stop it. "Come, come to me," the haunting voice beckons. "Come to my palace where you can forever play; puppets and toys to last you all your days."
Gunther feels his son cling ever-tighter to his arm and he looks down to see he is shivering from far more than the cold. "What be the matter, my son?"
Haldin shivers again and with wet and cold eyes he looks up with pale skin. "Do you not hear him, father? 'Tis the Elfin-king calling to me."
The father smiles and strokes the color back in to his face, saying, "It is but the wind you hear, howling through hallowed logs."
Haldin is not put at ease.
"Come, come to me child. I can offer you a sword of gold and a steed as white as snow. And my daughters are pretty and can put on a show. They will love you and sing and kiss on you too. The most beautiful of them will be kept pure just for you."
The child is strong though, unimaginably so. But he is still a child and soon the Elfin-king's sweet nothings cause him to smile. It is not a smile of joy or contentment but rather of delusion, slipping from fear to confusion. With his strong will the child manages a final shout. "Father! Dear father! Help me, he's got me! His hand reaches past my chest and chills my heart as cold as death!"
Gunther kicks his steed in to a dash but is already too late as the air around him turns harsh like ash. The sky grows dark with a whirlwind of black wings and so the soul of the child belongs to the Elfin-king. Even in death the child is beautiful but his sun-gold locks are now faded as he dances only a mournful dance that follows the grooves of his feet. He has no toys, no golden sword or white steed, trapped in the Shadowlands where nary a bird shall sing.

Part II: Sir Oluf

So akin they are to their ghostly ways that the Elfin-king's daughters move like vapors through his halls. They grow bored with the monotony that has stolen their father's court. They have sang and they have danced and they have bathed in the sunlight even though their fair skin shall forever be pale. Even the spirits of the children their father has taken does little more than to offer them a quiet titter here and there and are of no practical use beyond bringing news of activity in the forest.
"Never is there any fun in these dull woods," moans the second daughter as she draws lines in the dirt with a twig. "And the children are boring today, ever-more gloomy than usual. They make no more noise when I poke them but just drag their feet across the earth."
"You know our plight, sister. The Shadowlands offers so little to us beyond the pale moonlight," replies the first sister. This draws a long, echoing moan from the youngest sister that makes it sound as if she is dieing. Of course, the way she talks, it always sounds as if she is dieing.
"The Shadowlands is not our plight, nay! But our father's plight from when the elves judged him. We can still dance and find love for our own gloomy hearts!" The first and second sisters only ignore her hopeful words, always poisoned by a flat, death tone. They share the fate of their dismal father, banished to these Shadowlands. Every day is the same as every week which resembles every month in turn to be copied by every year. This is their life of un-rest, their "un-life" to be spent in this silent Hell.
Suddenly, though, from the misty shadows their shines a hope. A spirit child stands in their midst, his eyes as hollow as his voice, and says, "A rider approaches. His horse is white and his layers are grand, bright with red and yellow. I tried to speak, even to smile, but he did not seem to notice. Not even a hello."
The daughters do not hear him past his remark that a rider approaches. Their gloomy hearts fill with hope and they begin to rush about their father's castle. They gather their grandest jewelry and don their finest white dresses that they match their white skin to make them appear all the more ghostly. Deep within the castle the Elfin-king mourns as he knows well the false hope that fills his daughters.
They will gather the spirit children to flock to the area of this rider's passing that the gloomy light they shed may accumulate to some how create a pleasing and welcoming warmth. A beautiful fairy ring will be formed and they will sing and dance to attract the attention of this man. Whether he passes or succumbs does not matter for in the end his daughters will still know only sorrow and the echoes of the Shadowlands.
Still, he rises from his throne to drift to the window and watch them. No matter how false, their hope manages to bring some measure of joy to his empty heart even while he knows that his despair will be even greater than before when they return with nary a prize between them. They spin and they twirl in their dresses and necklaces and Alder, the Elfin-king smiles. Never before in the world has there been such a sad smile.

The path his horse trots leads him in to the outermost reaches of Elfland, in to the vapor forest of the Elfin-king where the birds are silent and pools show no reflections. This is unbeknownst to Sir Oluf, though, who's eyes show him the greenery and flush of a vibrant forest and his ears hear the songs of birds alive and happy. The breeze is not so strong but it carries to his flaring nostrils the sweet scent of honey and rain.
Rain fell just last night which would explain the wet scent but the smell of honey is actually in his mind rather than his nose as he thinks of his dear Marthe, surely sweet as honey. To celebrate such an event as his love for his bride-to-be is considered bad luck so soon after a rainfall but he is a man of noble mien and believes his love for her can conquer even misfortune. Little does he know of the dance of the Elfin-king's daughters and their inviting fairy ring not so far ahead.
As the path begins to become wider Sir Oluf kicks his horse in to a determined trot and does not notice the animal becoming shifty and nervous. Besides children and the elderly, the senses of animals are most well-attuned to the activities of elves and other such creatures. The steed's nostrils flare in annoyance at the sensation but with loyalty typical of it's kind, continues the trot.
A mist crawls out from the trees all around Sir Oluf, gathering first at the trotting legs of his steed and then steadily rises as if it is alive. The sun no longer seems so bright as the mist reaches the treetops and the sound of birds singing slowly fades in to the wild hooting of owls and the howling of wolves. His sharp eyes dart all around him and his hand moves to rest on the hilt of his trusted sword, his other hand tightening on the reins of his steed until his knuckles turn white.
"What sorcery is this forbidding fog that eats the sunlight?" he asks gruffly, his dark mustache quivering out of anticipation. Only an incoherent echo answers his call as he slows his horse back down to a steady walk, his eyes often forced to the path so as not to guide his steed in to a crippling hole. Then, at the end of the path there is a light and Sir Oluf remembers the stories the elders tell of Death and the light at the end of the tunnel. "What is this devilry? My life is vibrant still so this light can not be the foreboding of Men."
Sir Oluf's tension does not last, though when he hears what he can only decipher as the laughter of children. As his steed continues down the path the light becomes pale and seems to pulsate with an inviting softness. When he at last enters the light he does so without having to squint his eyes and fully relaxed. The laughter turns in to a beautiful hymn that he cannot help but to become entrapped in. Hardly can he recall the many stories of woe that begin such as this.
"Welcome, handsome sir," beckons Cianna, first daughter of the Elfin-king. "Welcome to our ring. Do enter. Enter and dance with me, handsome sir."
Though his vision is not blurred, Sir Oluf rubs his eyes and looks again around him. The path is the same as before he entered the light but the foreboding mist is gone and his steed is at ease. The trees around him seem strange, though with their twisted trunks and roots clinging to the earth like the claws of a demon trying to peel the ground away from the world. He turns his horse that he may face this woman of ghastly beauty who spoke to him with such familiarity.
Her pale face and lips make her long yellow hair shine all the brighter, like the sun rising over the snowy peaks of a mountain. To say her dress is suited to royalty would be an insult for it appears so soft that Sir Oluf believes one could sleep for eternity within it's folds. He can not see her eyes as she twirls and hops to the gentle music played on the lute by one of her sisters but if he could he would see that they are blank, desperate for a love that can never fill them.
"I am a gentleman and could never refuse a lady a dance but I dare not stay. For you see, my sweet Marthe waits for me as the 'morrow brings my wedding-day."
"Oh but please, Sir Oluf," the lute-playing Minkah replies. "Surely Marthe can not weave for you a silk shirt as soft as clouds and just as white. And surely she can not dance through the night as do I."
"Nay, she can not," is Sir Oluf's own reply. "Nor can I, I fear." His nerves become evident to his steed as he does not recall stating his name.
Then comes Ayla and Sir Oluf finds that her own dance disturbs him, her hands and feet seeming to drag depressingly through the air as if she is some corpse pulled by strings. "Ohh, but Sir Oluf," she moans in a monotone that is like death. "My father's gold spurs you can have if only you come and dance."
His eyes are caught by their movements and he notes how Cianna and Ayla seem to alternate so that as they twirl they keep a perfect circle with the sitting Minkah. His eyes betray his love for his betrothed as he watches these pretty elves float in their fairy ring and his lips become wet with lust. It is then, though he tastes just a hint of honey and he is reminded of his Marthe.
"You are very pretty, this all can see," he says, trying to be humble before these wondrous creatures. "But not for silk or spurs or the moon itself can I dance with thee."
Sensing her overflowing ire, Ayla moans that deathly sound and Minkah's fingers quit their strumming as their eldest rises up. "Damn you then, Sir Oluf and this Marthe, too! Know that this shall hurt me far more than you!" And with that Cianna flies forward before Oluf can react and she strikes him solidly just above his heart.
The once loyal steed is at last flung in to a panic and bucks the immobile Sir Oluf to the ground. He becomes cold even while Cianna's ire seems to set the forest ablaze. As his color fades the elfin maiden turns to her sisters and howls in pain and rage, her banshee-like scream piercing the veil of the Shadowlands and the heart of her father, the Elfin-king. "Catch the beast and bring it to me," she shouts and points at the fleeing steed.
Minkah and Ayla obey, with nothing else to do, and chase the steed on endless paths. The beast is calmed and returned by which time Cianna has prepared a lasso spun of her own hair to tie the body of Sir Oluf to his saddle. She strokes his cheek and leans close to his face, her lips brushing his and her empty eyes staring in to his. "Return to your bride-to-never-be that I may curse each generation up to three."
She strikes the steed's flank and this time when the horse flees it does not do so down the endless paths of the Shadowlands. Full of fright the steed makes it to the humble cottage of the woman engaged to be Marthe Oluf. She rushes out the door to the sound of neighing and with dreams of her beloved floating between her ears.
She even titters when her beloved, in his obvious excitement, falls from his horse. Her smile fades though as she draws closer to his unmoving form beneath the red mantle. Cianna's curse never comes to fruition for when Marthe lifts the mantle to see her dead husband she knows she will never have for him his son.
The day is long, the night yet longer, but always ever longer for the Elfin-king's daughters.

Chapter 2: Love & Life

Part I: Sojourn

Elfland sprawls across the forest floor, alive with activity and sound like the buzz of a bee. It is as vast as the human states but with the same interconnecting of their most populated cities. They are always in touch with one another even over miles by whispering their messages to the leaves. During autumn when the leaves begin to fall and during the winter when there are none at all they rely on the wind to carry their voices.
The elves of Elfland and of the entire Invisible Kingdom for that matter are a vast and very cultural people, with pockets of small and large populations sharing different customs, beliefs and overall lifestyles. The territorial nymphs bicker and squabble amongst themselves and though they are child-like and immature by nature, they are powerful sorceresses. The Moss People are vast and unique even among each other and are nearly impossible to describe as a whole.
Among them all, and there are many, are the Judges. They are omnipresent in Elfland by staying always connected to one another. The Judges are many and, so many believe, are countless. Nymphs, sylphs, and even goblins and black elves. They judge without passion but not always without motive and are superseded only by the Green Man.
There is a tiny community indistinguishable from the rest of Elfland but within the Invisible Kingdom even the tiniest things are given names. Sojourn has been so named for it's cozy nature and exceptionally warm and comfortable inns. Chilled wine is unheard of in Sojourn while nothing but hot, fresh bread is acceptable. This place that is home even to first-time visitors and like all places in Elfland, recognizes no formal leadership but rather accepts the guidance of a single elf, or Wise One.
As it so happens, the Wise One accepted by Sojourn is also a Judge named Alder who fancies himself as an "elfin-king". If ever questioned why he would claim such a title of monarchy Alder would only reply that it is because he is in possession of the world's four most precious jewels. Of course such humility and love for his three daughters and wife make him just as beloved by Sojourn. So beloved in fact, that he is not the only one who recognizes him as the Elfin-king. So his legend began.
But for now Sojourn is our focus for though it is small in Elfland's shadow, it is no less full of wonder beyond our imagining. It is between two grassy hills that the children like to roll down in the spring and sled down during the snow. To the south is the Mushroom Bog, covered in mist for most of the year and always wet. It is the perfect home for will-o-wisps and other creatures of the swamp.
The north is the easiest entrance to small Sojourn, seconded only by the southern entrance from through the bog. It is also where the Omnipath of Elfland ends before picking up again shortly after the Mushroom Bog. The western hill is called Milburga, home to a multitude of bickering nymphs that are none-the-less powerful, if not a bit troublesome. The eastern hill is known as the Grove Hill because of the top of it being most plentiful with all matters of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, like a mini-forest within a forest (on top of a hill). Some of Sojourn's homes are built so cleverly that they can not be picked out from the rest of the forest (at least by you and I) even while some resemble human homes more and more. Hunting with magical blunted arrows is a popular sport though they have been known to hunt-to-kill as well. Other festivities include small house parties and spontaneous Sojourn-wide parties that usually attract dancing nymphs. Then, of course, there is always a party if the Green Man is sighted within the boarders of Elfland, everyone hoping that he will come to their neck of the woods to rest and relax. Sojourn has yet to have such a pleasure.
The breezes are always cool and the sun's warmth can always be felt even through the shade. The water is crystal clear, sparkling like diamonds in the moonlight. The grass is so fresh that individual blades can cut skin. But let this not deter your imagination. Sojourn, Elfland and the whole Invisible Kingdom is ever-changing, shaping before the elves' very eyes and always in our minds. In absolute truth, it can not be put in to words and it is best to remember this and focus on the story as it plays out. The world is never the same. Even our own. It changes now and will forever change until the End.
Where the Omnipath starts back up after the Mushroom Bog it goes on for a long while before it branches off in to the invisible darkness of the Shadowlands. The Shadowlands is forever dark with inky shadows and It always right around the bend. But like the Stand-still, It is another story. Among the inhabitants of the Shadowlands are black elves and wicked goblins and dwarfs though others may be banished to such a hell by the Judges. The Green Man, the only being akin to a authority figure to the elves who knows greater prestige than even the Judges, never condemns a soul to the Shadowlands. He simply destroys it.
But beyond the branch in to the invisible darkness the Omnipath still does not end. Elfland is a strong and mighty land within the Invisible Kingdom and covers much of the surface of the world. This leaves one to assume that it does not, however, reach the bottom of oceans or the depths and hallows of mountains. It does not span in to the sky but is always nestled comfortably under it. Elfland is strong and mighty but they are not all that there is.
But again I divert your focus. Always wandering are these fingers of mine as they describe the wonders of the home of elves, goblins and dwarfs (even giants and trolls were you to look hard enough). Through the earth-like depth of the Invisible Kingdom and through all the vines and leaves of Elfland I must bring you back to little ol' Sojourn. This small elf-home is watched over by the Wise One Alder, famously known as the Elfin-king, and his love for his own legend.

Part II: The Alder Family Jewels

They are truly his crown jewels. The pinnacle of all of his life accomplishments and the most beautiful elves to grace Sojourn (or all of Elfland if you ask him). They are as grand as a forest's tallest bear but as sleek and affectionate as a tame mountain cat. They are the Elfin-king's daughters, wrapped up in their own world and their own legend.
They share their mother's skin, fair and pale like fresh snow in the twilight sun. Though their eyes are bright they are blind to all but what affects them directly. But hardly can any blame them as they are still young by their standards, naive and, as far as anyone knows, innocent. From the eldest on down they were named by their father as Cianna, Minkah and Ayla.
Ayla is the prettiest and purest of her sisters and favored by their mother. She is also the smallest and is shy, especially in the shadow of her sisters. Her mother sees a secret strength in her though that she fears may never blossom should she continue to hold her sisters in such high regard. Then there is Minkah, the middle child, overlooked by her mother and father and keeper of her elder sister's highest adoration. Then there is Cianna, the strongest and wisest that the Alder family has never known. Her eyes show wisdom not just beyond her own years but beyond the years of even Elfland's Old Ones.


Last edited by Penumbra on Mon May 09, 2011 3:07 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : silly typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Fall of the Elfin-king   Thu May 12, 2011 2:56 am

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