[Welcome readers. To the most backwards magical planet we call Caradesance. Where we have been learning about all the races which call the planet home.]
[My name for those of you who don’t know by now is Vin Attorn. And today I will be taking you deep into the enchanted forest of Britstana. Where the Elves of the former Tigrade nation still live to this very day. Or at least those that haven’t left for better opportunities do.]
[The stretch of magical forest, which is precisely the same length as the United States, is known for the four natural growth states which it has in abundance.]
[From seed into sapling is the first two states. When ready, it will grow into a tree like any other. This is known as the third state. Then when said tree becomes deadwood to feed the forest, it begins what is known as the fourth state. Such is the cycle of life. Although admittedly, whilst this does happen everywhere. Here in the enchanted forest this process can happen in the blink of an eye. Or it can take a hundred years for the acorn to even become an oak sapling. No one knows how this started, but the elves of the forest use this cycle to their advantage.]
[As such, most of the forest dwellings are linked to Hub City. Sending giant logs down multiple rivers to the small city on the coast. Only for the city to send food back down the river paths using carts. As they have no fruit trees or bushes. And trees take up all the soil space as it is. All the elf’s food comes from outside of the forest and needs to be transported in.]
[All elves are but miniature pink hairless creatures. Or they are until they turn thirteen. Sometimes fourteen in some cases. But at the correct point, their bodies will force them into a three-year hibernation. Where they will sleep until they’re awakened by the first lunar eclipse of the third year. When they wake, they do so famished and in dire need of a bath. The adult elf which has now emerged will also have grown hair for the first time in their lives.]
[The only known benefit to this hibernation growth state is that they will completely miss puberty. Luckily for their parents. And they will also be ready to serve the modern society, the second they emerge. Or they will be, after they wash and eat in that order.]
[There are of course five known types of elves. Though one type has not been seen for many years. The wood-elf, the low elf, the high elf, the blue elf, and of course, dark elves.]
[Whilst wood-elves are supposed to be connected to nature. This is only partly true. And is considered a full-fact only because they have some form of nature growing out of them. Although not all wood-elves can talk to the trees like the stories tell you. And most cannot control any form of nature. Oh! And they also have green hair which isn’t important. As most of this type of elf is also known to dye their hair blonde.]
[The low elf is not called low because they are wanting. But because they are low in magic. Thus, not a single low-elf can perform any sort of magic at all. So I suggest you don’t believe the blonde pointy eared idiot in the pub trying to swindle you of your tuppence.]
[High-elves. Well, they’re all mages. They have ginger hair like humans. And there is nothing else left to say about them. They hide away in libraries and universities. Digging into the unknown secrets of the magical world. Or they become policemen, at least from your point of view.]
[No blue elf has been seen for nearly two hundred years. Stories about them say that they were able to reach into your mind. Able to remove all your negative feelings, thoughts and dreams. Replace them with positivity and joy. Although who knows if this is even true. But what is known, is that when they vanished from the forest dark elves rose up to replace them.]
[Whereas dark elves are not raised, but reborn. They’re what happens to an elf who has murdered someone in any way imaginable. When they kill, something in the cosmic balance gives them use of dark magic. Which is unavailable to them until they change. Although with their black hair, black fingernails and total lack of bathing, dark elves are easily noticed in a crowded inn. Or the inns which let them in that is.]
‘Marken Cleanwood,’ the woman shouts from the window at the payment shed, ‘only call for a Marken Cleanwood.’ Marken forces his way through all the elves waiting to be paid. Reaching the front, he nearly fell over before smiling. The woman doesn’t smile back. She hands him his envelope before she shouts the next name on her list. He sighs before turning to leave. His chain-mail rattles as he does so.
The lengthy days, with the constant darkness, the unshapen morbid looking trees and low pay, were getting to him. And to everyone else in the forest.
As he forces his way back through the throng of those waiting, Marken clutches his pay packet close to his chest. As with everyone in Tree-town-thirty-eight. Or any of the other tree-towns. Marken works for Lord Nain’s forestry business. And everyone is paid simultaneously, or as close to. The pay is of course terrible, the hours are long and the work is boring as hell. Well for Marken it is. He has to sit about making sure no one took any of the tools without signing for them. Whilst making sure everyone hands in their identity paperwork before a tool goes out.
[The low elf is a guard. As a child he had imagined it was going to be moonlit chases through the trees. Capturing criminals who tried to run away. Whereas in reality it is nothing as glamorous.]
[After he had grown up to learn that no one investigated anything in the forest. Marken was disheartened to find out that if someone died then someone died. No investigation, or basic searching around for what happened, happened at all. If you were robbed, oh well, you were robbed. And the more elves which left each year, the worse it got in the forest. Crime they said was on the constant increase. And no one was going to do anything about it. Not even the Lord of the enchanted forest, who couldn’t have cared less about his serfs.]
A strong wind blew through the trees. As more autumn leafs fall to the floor, his body shakes whilst he tries not to glance upwards. Although this is when Marken hears a woman screaming. Everyone else around him hears it as well, but Marken is the only one who dashes off towards the sound. After all, his mind is telling him a woman is in trouble. And even though he should have been running away from the sound, like the those around him, his body is ambling in the other direction.
Branches hit him in the face as he slides through the trees. As he plunges on towards the sound of screaming, Marken realises he is on his own. No one is following him. No one is going to help him. There is now only the darkness. The light of the two moons fighting the canopy to reach the ground. His footfalls, crunching twigs and dry leaves as he moves. His heart beats begin to thud as his heart loses its rhythm as he speeds up.
Marken is now regretting his actions. His mind is cursing the part of himself, which compels him to be helpful. The sound of screaming has now gone quiet. All he can hear is the sound of panting and his beating heart. As it thuds against his own chest.
The tool guard thinks about calling out for help. He thinks about turning back around and heading in the opposite direction. But he can’t, someone needs his help (or needed, his mind screams). The desire to do some good in his life drowns out the voice on the inside, as it attempts to scream over his helpfulness trait.
Something carries on overriding the screaming voice and tells him that pushing forward is the only course of action. Whilst he knows it’s the right thing to do.
Another branch suddenly slaps him in the face. An enormous swelling begins to rise immediately. Marken’s head spins around. He tries to regain his footing but can’t. As he tries doing so, his feet go from under him. And as his legs go, he slips on something simultaneously. He hears a noise as he grabs at the closest tree trunk. A pain begins in his head and flows through his neck. In the dark though, whilst falling to the ground, he is sure that he can distinguish someone running away through the trees. Although, as his head hits the ground, all Marken observes is blackness.
‘Your nicked buddy!’ The guard says to him as he wakes Marken up. As two guards pick him up, his eyes open fully. Confusion follows the throbbing. Yet the first words out of his mouth are,
‘Did I save her?’ No one answers him. And with his arms quickly tied behind his back. Whilst being plastered in someone else’s blood. The guard marches him down the main road.
People begin to watch from their windows. Those standing in the street glare at him as he’s marched past them. Their eyes bore into his soul with each set of eyes. And yet none of them realise he’s one of the victims.
In the town’s only tiny red brick guardhouse. They have only two cells. The townsfolk always said they didn’t need more than two. After all, if the criminal isn’t at the scene of the crime, then nothing is going to be done about it. And as both cells were always empty. Only having two didn’t seem like a bad idea. Although sitting behind a large table is the commander of the only guardhouse in town. And although he is known to be a powerful mage who went by the name of Dippska. He is also known to be one of the few mages to stay in the forest voluntarily,
‘What’s this?’ Dippska said glancing up from his table. The sergeant answers his commander whilst still picking his nose,
‘We found him asleep on top of the body.’ The commander makes a noise towards his underling,
‘And that’s a reason to arrest a low elf?’
‘Well, he was on the body. I just said that.’
[The criminal had been on the body, so he’d arrested him. To the young plucky sergeant, it had at the time seemed fairly straightforward. As for everything else, well, he didn’t get paid enough to think about that.]
‘Clean him off, check that head wound and- wait your Marken, aren’t you?’ Marken nodded. He looked around and said,
‘Yes, sir.’ The commander shook his head,
‘Let him go. He’s a guard for-’ Dippska took in a deep breath and then carried on speaking,
‘What did you ascertain then guards-elf?’ Marken, as he is untied, puts his hand to his head and winces in pain. As he looks at the blood on his hands, he begins to tell the commander what he’d seen and done last night,
‘I had just collected my payment envelope. I was walking down Little Shrub Road towards my apartment at thirty-two red-bark street. The fourth-’ the commander starts to move his hand in a twirling motion, which causes Marken to skip ahead in the story,
‘A woman began to scream. Everyone ignored it as they trudged forwards. But I couldn’t, sir. I had to do something. So I darted off under the newer tree-apartments between the green belt. As I reached the crime scene, I was hit on the head. I think I saw the figure rushing off. But I didn’t observe anything of use, sir. It was just too dark.’ The commander made a noise, then glanced down at his paperwork as he said,
‘Clean yourself up. You two clean up the body and go tell the family. Your all to keep your eyes open for a dark elf. Whoever murdered that poor woman has been reborn by now. It only takes about twenty minutes. Now move it, I just gave you all orders.’ Marken doesn’t follow the other two guards out. He looks at the commander’s grey hair and says,
‘Sir. Don’t you think we should do something else?’
‘Like what, tool guard? Pressurize people to sign something and show identification?’ That hurt Makren’s feelings. But he finds it in himself to answer without any emotion,
‘Search for the killer, sir. Check with people. Knock door to door-’, the commander looks up as he cuts Marken off,
‘Ah, these new ideas I hear coming from the Dwarven Mounties. How novel. Although you appear to forget that here in this town, no in this forest even, we will never find the killer. He has likely run a mile. Or maybe he’s currently riding one of the logs to the hub. Do you know that by the time a rider reaches the log hub, that we wouldn’t even be a quarter of the way? He is likely to get on the first timber wagon going to the royal capital. And that is still before we even reach the hub.’
‘Sir, who says it was a male?’
‘She, he or even a troll, it doesn’t matter. Unless we catch them in the act, we can’t do anything.’
‘But-’ The commander looks like he is about to scream at Marken. But the words that cut him off aren’t nastily said,
‘If you want to learn all that new stuff, then go. I mean it. Go to the mountains and learn all the new dwarven enforcement ideas.’
‘I didn’t mean-’ answering the commander doesn’t go the way the low elf is hoping it would go. The commander’s face turns red as he cuts Marken off for a third time, almost screaming as he does so,
‘And I don’t care what you mean. You youngsters all want to go off and see the world. To learn new things, well, if that’s what you want, then go. Go on then. The door is right there. Do you know what? I’ve had enough of you-’ which Marken believes is a bit too far. This is after all the first time he has spoken with the commander, ‘-and all the rest of the youth of these last decades. Do you know what? You’re fired. Get out of my sight before I decide you need to be put in the cell after all. GO!’
[Another murder in the forest is left unsolved. Only to be added to the long list of crimes which keeps on growing by the day. Along with the murder, no one noticed that the delivery of ale had gone missing. Although when the landlord isn’t there to collect her delivery- oh wait. My bad, she was murdered. Quickly moving on.]
[The low-elf is out of the job and with everyone in town presuming he is a murderer. Marken does what all youngish elves do with their lives in this new modern world. He got the bond back on his apartment, cleaned out his bank account and headed off to the world outside the forest. With no real destination in mind. Marken heads towards where guarding is becoming a career and not a chore.]
[And yet this is what life is like for the elves of the forest. They work constantly without thanks. They live in fear that that day would be their last. Or they are forced to leave their ancestral home to find work. And I must note, if the decrease each month carries on the way it is going, then in fifty years time the forest will be like the troll mountain towns. Barren of all but those who have a reason to stay. Which is always linked to illegal activity.]
[Next time on lifeforms of Caradesance. We will be taking a fleeting glimpse into the life of a dwarf as they move the modern universe forward with their digging, tinkering and sluggish advance into the surface-world.]