Friday, July 18, 2008
'Twas Samhain, and come nightfall the fae trooped as one to the lordly mounds of the Daoine Sídhe, the commoners there to pay their yearly tithe to the nobles.
First into the hallowed halls of Aos Sí came the Trolls, stout as trees and nearly as wide, stooped such that their terrible height might cause them not to strike their heads upon the gilt ceilings. They came bearing great casks of ale and sacks of gold, and leading in flocks of sheep, and goats, and cow,s and even the occasional human child. All these were tolls demanded by them for to cross the bridges they claimed as their own, and if passers-by were unable to pay the Troll with gild or with good, victims they became.
The Daoine Sídhe nodded regally, and mayhaps smiled once or twice, for these offerings were good and desirable. The gold would be smelted into crowns and scepters and other trappings of nobility, and the animals would provide fine feasting over the long winter months to come. Even the children would be of use, the plain ones taught to serve and the fairer taught to service, and even the dullards would bring some amusement during the slow times as they were tormented before the court.
Then there was a terrible rustling, rushing, ragged noise of thousands of wings, and as countless crows whirled and gyred and smashed into each other, slowly appeared the representatives of the Sluagh. From beneath coal-black tattered cloaks presented they their homage: human souls. Glowing, bright and pure, the souls of innocent babes stolen afore their baptism; pulsing, dark and foreboding, the souls of the wicked claimed at the moment of their deaths; and whirling, with madness and distress, the souls of foolish wanderers who knew not to avoid the clutches of the Wild Hunt as it rode throughout the land.
The Daoine Sídhe nodded grimly at this, counting each soul at presentation, and at last satisfied with the tally, quietly relieved that again this cycle they could pay the Teind owed to the Devil. The torments of hell would not suit ones such as they.
As passed the hours, so did the commonfae and their tributes, from greatest to least in worthiness. And so, as the night waned and the dawn threatened, so came the Kobolds. Small they were, and hideous, for they were goblins and beasts of the earth, dirty and unkempt and reeking of noxious odors. At the head of this procession was Masse, the great Kobold King himself, and behind him his people strained to bring forth a tribute unlike any they had before.
And the Daoine Sídhe, enervated and bored, took keen notice of this. For eons past the Kobolds had only brought forth ores and rocks -- things useful to the court, certainly, but none especially valuable or pretty or luxurious like gold or diamond; rather, boring and mundane ores like tin and nickel and copper. But today! Today they brought forth a great metal sphere, painted a brilliant deep blue that seemed to glow even in torchlight, and mounted upon a great heavy pedestal of glittering chrome, inlaid with abstract mosaics of bright yellow and green.
"Explain this thing which before us lies," demanded the King of the Daoine Sídhe, for never had they seen an offering such as this. It spoke of hidden artistry possessed by the Kobolds, and unknown talents of commoners distressed the nobility greatly.
"This," rasped the King of the Kobolds, "is the lifetime work of my race. I offer it to you, Gracious Lords," and at this he bowed low, "that Kobold-kind might find favor in your eyes."
First one noble tittered, then another. Who were these things, to think that they might be anything other than earth-grubbers? Soon the entire court was a-howl with mocking laughter, and the King of All Kobolds' cheeks flushed with anger and shame. Bowing, scraping, he retreated from the court, the rest of his kind having long since fled. The hoots and jeers followed him to the very exits of the faerie mound. To ground thence he went, traveling ever deeper into the bowels of the earth, unto the leaden caverns of the Kobold Kingdom.
He summoned then his two trusted advisors, Heymr and Oppe. "The Daoine Sídhe have mocked us for the last time," he growled. "We will show them the extent of Kobold craft." And his advisors nodded and performed arcane acts upon yet more mosaics, the peaceful greens and cheerful yellows turning to angry, virulent reds.
Back in the great mound of Aos Sí , the gift of the Kobolds went ignored as the nobles feasted and debauched. They hardly noticed that the peaceful greens and cheerful yellows adorning the base of the blue glowing sphere had shifted to angry, virulent reds, nor the ominous "clunk" that resounded within.
Then the fucking thing exploded, and the fae were burnt to death in a firestorm and blown apart by the shockwave of a one-kiloton nuclear explosion. However, the slowly blossoming mushroom cloud that replaced the faerie mound of Aos Sí was very pretty.
Moral: Never piss off a people whose race is synonymous with a radioactive element.
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