A short tale free for you all to read. I have called it "The Dread" it is worth a read and will only take you a minute or two. I have also added some cool pics to enhance your reading experience. Hope that you like it.
Panic in the river lands, a beast, unseen and unknown haunted the night. It was of the faerie, we could smell its essence but we knew nothing of it, it was different from all that we had known before and being eternal we thought that we knew everything.
The world was changing, not only for the fae but the folk of the land, I could hear them talking at night when they walked their dogs along my river banks. Strange words were often used but sometimes I could work out their meaning, other times no matter how I puzzled over them I was left with no idea what they were talking about. “global warming” and “changing weather patterns” I found easy to follow. The summers; often wet and rainy, had grown warmer, the winters wetter and windier but losing the biting cold I remembered from earlier times.
There were new and different fish in the waters where my river met the sea, a few even ventured into my river but they were only fish and so I let them live there as long as they could.
On the full moon, when the mermen and maids came to the shore, I talked with them about the fish and the seals that once basked upon the rocks at my river mouth and all sighed, a forlorn look crossing faces that were normally joyful.
The world is changing, was the only thing that they could offer. The seals still lived and flourished but had moved north as the sea grew too warm for them with their thick blubber coats. There were more jellyfish in the ocean, though few could cope with the fierce tides here in the north and most ended up gelatinous on beaches or rock-strewn shores, fewer fish and fewer of the faerie that lived in the sea still gathered here on the full moons, many traveled north, where the climate suited our strange breed.
A river sprite, I was born a scion of the titans that still lived here and there though most had faded and some had perished through the ages though we were all immortal, or if not, we knew no end other than one chosen by ourselves or ordained by gods.
Yet we could be killed, destroyed, I had known fae whom mortals destroyed, I knew of some who had grown tired and let their essence slip away to become combined with the land, becoming part of the greatest of the gods, Mother nature, Gaia herself. Others still, fell foul of the surviving gods, who sat quietly nursing old wounds and scores as they slowly dissipated becoming forgotten and destined to disappear forever.
Hearne, the hunter, huddled in a cave, antlers covered in moss, lichens and bat shit, lay in a cave only a few miles from here. Once the dread god of the hunt and the forest, a giant and feared by all, sat nursing old wounds waiting to die.
Yet the children of the titans were never gods and had no need of worship, we had never been worshiped, the best hoped for was a freshly baked loaf on a window sill or seeds scattered at the bottom of a garden in offering to the faeries. Some left out milk, others, bread and cakes, all were gratefully accepted and those that looked after us, we looked after in return, ensuring no ill will came upon them and theirs.
Tales of old.
Those days were now gone and few of the folk remembered the fairies at the bottom of their garden, those that strayed from the woodlands close by and played with their garden tools and enjoyed the short, cut, grass. And so, the faerie avoided the folk, and the folk being short lived forgot about the faerie, but there were some amongst the folk that had their eyes open and could tell from the land and the river, the forests and mountains that we faerie resided there still.
One of those humans became my husband and lives with me still. I will not tell you of that tale here as it is a long and difficult story to tell, instead I shall return to my initial thoughts on the beast that now walks my river lands. We, the dryads, Nereid's, nymphs, satyrs and I could smell it and all were afraid for it was a beast from the dark places of the river lands.
The land we live in
Argyll is an old land, part of a younger land, part of an old kingdom, long vanished into dust.
Standing stones were erected in Kilmartin Glen before the pyramids were built in Egypt, a civilization, crude but effective existed here when the first civilizations of Sumer, Mesopotamia, Abyssinia came into being. No one knows why this should be, though many theories abound. Scotland is too remote to have been involved in the creation of civilization, assuming homo erectus did walk out of Africa, as I believe they did. All I can imagine is, in the crude half-formed north, the conditions were so harsh that people had to work together to survive, where as in the indolent, comfortable warmth of the south survival was a little less of a problem.
Root and branch were scarred and riven, the “dread” was indeed here, and was residing near the river.
There were many crypts, cysts, burial mounds nearby as this was an ancient land, but in which one, the beast resided was unknown and more what were we to do even were we to know where it was. We were the children of titans, we were not titans nor gods, I could swim well, conjure a wind, the dryads could make branches grow more quickly, the Nereid's allow the tides or waves to scatter upon the shore or draw back quickly but we were slight creatures, we had no real power, we could not face down a weight nor shade nor shadow, never mind a “dread“. Our one hope should we not be eaten, consumed or subsumed by the monster that lived near to us was my husband.
Rob, my husband, had spent many years studying history, the faerie (that is how he found me) and the dark arts, learning how to deflect the darkness and see the light in everything that lives. Once a hunter in the darkness he had regained the light when he met me and I knew real love for the first time when I met him. I knew however that Rob had the darkness within him, he always had, what young human goes searching for the faerie as opposed to girls?
A rock climber, a hill walker, I knew that he was fit and healthy and was my love for ever more but a “dread”, a beast of the dark places was perhaps too much for Rob, no matter how much faith I placed in him. I suggested that one night as we lay close, sleepy, enjoined that perhaps the “dread” was too much for him.
He smiled down upon me. Perhaps it was the light from the standard lamp that lay above his head, perhaps the ferocity of his love making, perhaps just the way he was shadowed by the light that shone down on us but he looked demonic. The sly smile was cryptic, as though he was looking forward to the conflict.
I sent the dryads, the Nereid, the satyrs, the elves out looking for the lair of the monster. A crypt sat alone and empty close to the long sand and soil plane that laid out from the spine of Kintyre. Many paces for a “shade” to hide, a “dread” to live, peppered this sea plain but the faerie told true and so I sent my beloved, a human out to dispense with the beast.
We knew each other well. He was neither tough nor aggressive but he was capable. I worried for his safety but I watched as he hefted his hand axe, spinning it in the air, before catching it with a smile as he entered the beasts lair. A crypt built into a rock face with a shallow cave at the back, the “dread’s lair was obvious now that we saw it, the stone plinths to either side, a larger stone topping them, a dark hole between, stinking the half eaten corpses of sheep, goats, deer and a moon-child lay close to the muddy path that led into the crypt.
I cried as I thought of my fellow fae, the moon-child ripped apart and eaten in such a way.
The cave fetid, reeking, housed a beast, rampant, strong and almost unassailable. But Rob walked up to it, stroking its neck, ignoring its smell.
She, the “dread” lay back upon a basalt rock as Rob approached, she paid little attention to him, she had recently eaten and had gorged herself on a goat, despite the dark axe he carried.
Hi my dear, Rob said as he drew close stroking the beast’s cheek, whispering into its ear, telling it of the food northwards, telling it of the fat sheep and goats that lived far to the north. Lulling the best cozening it, telling the best of the that it could be there, it could taste the sweet flesh of the fat sheep, the tasty goats but it was a long way to travel and that she would have to traverse the towns of the folk.
A thing the Fae, no matter their kind hated. But that he could transport her there with only the blade of his axe for it was a magic axe, one that sent those that it cut to the far North where game was replete and magic still held sway, but you have to ask for this boon he said , the magic does not work if you do not ask for it. The sleepy beast thought for a while her eyes closing perhaps dreaming of the cold and rock filled grasslands of the Northern tundra and asked.
Take me There.
A Sharp Edge
Rob lifted the hand axe and set to cleave the creature’s neck. Now he asked “This is what you wish for? The fat sheep, the milk filled goats, the vast plains of the north where it is not too warm?
“Yes” the creature replied, “take me there. Take me far from here to where it is still cold, take me to where it feels like home.
Rob brought the axe down upon the “dread’s” neck and severed the head from the body.
Striding form the place Rob took the head of the beast and threw it at his wife’s feet. “Do not ask me to do this again, as I do not wish to refuse you. Even shit’s like me are never cruel to animals.
This thing, only did what it needed to do. It killed but that is its nature.
Rob walked off, leaving the sprite standing looking down at the head of the beast. Rob did not understand.
The “dread” would have taken the faerie first, the nereids, ripping them from the shallows, splitting them apart, the nymphs it would pull from the river and eat in the dark of night, the river washing their blood and innards away in the rivers flow. The dryads and satyrs would mainly be safe scrambling up trees and away from the “dread’s” monstrous ferocity. But then the sprite itself, the Queene of the river would have been its next victim.
The faerie wept, just like humans.
When the sprite, her river clean again, joined Rob in his bed, she smelled his tears even before she entered his bedroom. She heard him sobbing from the corridor that connected the living room to all the other rooms of their house, worse still, she felt his pain from yards away, from hectares away, from leagues away and she supposed that she would have felt his pain had she been half way around the world. Still she, drying herself on a large towel he kept for her, climbed into bed beside him, mirrored his body which was faced away from her, kissed his shoulder and lay awake as he wept.
In the early hours of the next day he fell asleep.
What will happen when he awakes, no one knows.