Erlking, the Bramble Fey

by Len

Rotting logs dotted an area that was covered in loose dirt. Earthworms and grubs writhed in the newly stirred soil, and made the land seem as though it was alive. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. The crows came quickly to devour the easy meal. The black beasts, lost in the feeding frenzy, did not even stir as a small creature approached. He stood six inches in height, but had nasty barbs jutting from his shoulders and back. His skin was grey like the smooth bark of a tree. He wore chain armor, intricately crafted and sturdy despite the size. He was a bramble fairy, and he was on a mission.

One of the carrion crows, thinking this creature to be part of the feast, tried to pierce him with his beak. The armor held, and the fairy rolled with the blow to ease the unexpected impact. The birds should have know better than to attack the fairy, but the creature was in feeding frenzy. The bramble fairy drew a small sword from his belt and charged the crow. The fairy, Erlking, had no patience for the crow at this time. He had already walked for nearly two days, trying to find clues and measure the damage.The bird took to the air, thinking itself safe. It was not. The barbed fairy curled his knees and arms under him and launched a dozen of his thorny spines into the air. Three struck the crow, but it would have only taken one. The poison in which those barbs were covered could kill a man in a matter of minutes. The crow lasted only seconds before it too became part of the frenzy.

As he walked farther into the barren land, Erlking was not bothered by another bird. He walked briskly and covered the entirety of the desolation without further incident. By his approximation, the damage seemed to encompass two or so acres, but the devastation was spreading. All plant life seemed to be retreating, which in turn made the animals move as well. He wondered what had caused the forest to pull away. He had heard reports of this, but could not have imagined the severity of it. At least a score of other areas were experiencing the same phenomenon. Erlking knew that he should return to his king and report his findings, but something told him to press on.

So he sheathed his sword and trotted over to a crow. Erlking whispered to the beast and then gently climbed on it’s back. This crow understood who lorded over him, and obeyed the fairy’s commands. In no time, the two creatures were high above the small wasteland. Erlking was determined to find answers about the forest, and he knew where to look. He whispered once again to the crow, and the duo headed for Alhaven.

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