Wednesday, July 9, 2014


The Elf Queen
By Cameron Huntley

Believe you I am unaware, Champion, of the death you bring to Derrinhill?
For long moons have dreams wracked my mind. Youth of flaxen hair, claim spurious as his sigil. Yes, I know of you.
And you know me, you think: beautiful as dawn, fearful as midnight, the whore who cudgels Perennell into evil aspect. The Elf Witch. This is your story, the story of all those who pass their fleeting years as chaff blown by wind from dead stalks.
I held consort with Kings. They came from my loins, nursed at my breast. My people abandoned this land to a great darkness. But I--I stayed behind. For love, what else? A man who held the greatness of ages in callused hands, hardened by strife. He caressed my skin, and I trembled. A man forged in such pain that would crush an insect like you, Champion, whose valor bespeaks only vanity.
Last he was of Derrin's line, banished from their former country, who named Perennell their home. Under that proud name he reclaimed the great stature of his house and people. Enemies fled before him, and hand in hand we oversaw the rebirth of Perennell, and Castle Derrinhill would gleam on even moonless nights. Songs were sung of our great love, the last King of Derrin and the Elf-Queen, endless in years, unmatched in beauty. We ruled with justice and mercy until he was laid with his forefathers in the crypts below the halls where you now spill the blood of stalwart warriors whose only sin is loyalty.
I assumed the mantle of noble mother, counsel to the crown, as my sons and grandsons, righteous as their forebear, shouldered deftly his burdens. For three hundred years, in a time when your meager family name, Champion, had not even entered the annals of thought, peace ruled upon the realm.
I could not know that war and plague would befall. In my arms did I suffer the end of my family. A youth, like you really, callow and unready for rule and war. With him the last of Derrin's blood vanished into memory. He had my husband's eyes.
After that, chaos. Petty lords and greedy merchants thirsting to steal what was not theirs with treachery and deceit. I found my influence had waned, and as the bodies mounted and the yards overflowed with the ponderous dead, all hope failed. I exiled myself to the Great Wood of Renhauld on the Eastern Sea, and there I wallowed in my grief, with ancient pines grown twisted and irascible in the hard ways of passing years. From this did whispers grow of the Elf Witch of Renhauld, who would ensnare the souls of brave hunters and reckless wanderers.
Oh, the fancies men project when confronted with the fullness of a woman's grief!
In the trees I made mine own kingdom. The bears were my guards, the birds my spies, the rain my sustenance and the lightning my might. I would have spent infinite time there, content to be alone with my longing. Yet the suppurating cretins, servants of greed and cunning, desired to see me burn. Long eras had passed by then. All who had known of the Elves of Perennell lay beneath gravestones worn to pebbles. The line of my husband was a fond lore of olden days. And I, who had bothered no one in my solitude, found myself at the brunt of their hatred. A fury I had never known caught fire in my heart.
I annihilated them. To a new cause I rallied the oppressed peoples of Perennell. I raised my own sigil. With my sword Frostmourn I battled up the winding steps of Derrinhill, fallen to ruin, and smote the wriggling man who pretended to that which he was unworthy. I sat upon the throne, Queen once more, to right what had been wronged.
Perhaps it was a mistake. As the years turned to decades, and the decades to centuries, and the same battles raged and the same penalties fell upon the shoulders of unjust men; as the poor remained poor and the conniving found success, my optimism fled from me, fled as far as now were the glorious times of old, when I had first seen that man and touched my lips to his.
Were those times as golden as I recall? Had my mind shined them like an old coin upon the grindstone of millennia? No: I still believe they had been, for a little while. Golden. But gold fades, champion. This is a wisdom it took fifteen hundred years for me to learn. How, pray tell, can the insignificant span of human existence abide it? A caul lifted from my eyes, and I saw the world for how wretched it was. Bitterness usurped me. My disenchantment fell on the people, who had no resource to recall the war their ancestors had fought at my side. A terrifying country took shape.
So did I lay the stage for you, Champion, and your false pretense, to claim a line that was no more, that had died in my arms in a different time.
All has led to this. You burst into my throne room, the cold blue flame of unchallenged justice shining in your eyes. I have seen it before in loathsome men, stinking with avarice. You wish me to arise. I shall. I assume the role you desire: legendary foe, final obstacle. With blade in hand, my dearest Frostmourn, with which I once staunched corruption and seared decay, I do battle with you. My death, you believe, will herald victory.
For a time, maybe.
Hear me, Champion! A final wisdom from the last of the Elves of Perennell: it shall not endure. Even the mountain yields to the breakwaters of eternity, a truth known only by those condemned to witness the intricate span of history. And long have I wished my witness to conclude. For what is more accursed than an immortal life.

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Currently a freelance journalist who quit a steady job to pursue dream of writing full time and questions that decision more and more every time the rent's due.


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