Dance of the Fair-Folk
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"Throughout the west of the country of Oprad, many tales exist of the elusive Fae-folk or Fair-folk. Of the many subspecies of Fae-Folk, the most commonly encountered are predatory daemons that are able to inhabit both the physical and spiritual plane, manifesting themselves as pointy-eared women with green skin. They feed on the souls of mortals whom they kill with spells and enchantments. Although considered by many in Ixlamca to be the inventions of lunatics and worried mothers attempting to keep their children from wandering too far into the forest, those such as myself who have encountered the Fair-folk know very well just how real they are in this world." -Dr. Spencer Black, in his book Ixlamcian Creatures, Spirits, and Folklore.

The people in my town love to throw celebrations, events I deeply despise. Foolishly, they allow their voices to flow and their bodies to flail. I sit on my porch, my brow lowering as I dwell on memories of the events that made me the man I am today. That night has taught me much more than what they've experienced. They do not know of the consequences of such carelessness.

I was like them as a young man. I loved to dance and to sing, and to venture off into the forest long after the sun had taken her rest beyond the mountains. Those were the days when I did not know the dangers the world had to offer.

The night it happened was a night like any other. I carelessly danced through the pathless forest. The sun’s nighttime sisters and brothers gently illuminated my way deeper into the woodlands. Suddenly, a rustling caught my attention. Turning my head to the noise I encountered a form sticking out from a bush. The form appeared to be human, though their features were unclear with the lack of light.

“Excuse me,” I said, approaching the person.

She jumped then turned around, revealing herself to be a young girl.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” the girl inquired, her eyes widening.

Before I could answer, she had jumped up and grabbed my face with her hand, examining it. Her hair was full of twigs, and her skin had the texture of the bark of a birch tree.

“You’re a human!” she exclaimed after a few seconds.

“Knock it off,” I said shoving her hand away from my face, “And who are you?”

“Why are you out here?” the girl asked ignoring me. “No one, especially a human, should be alone out here. Do you have a death wish?”

I shot her questions right back at her, “Well, why are you out here all alone? You don't seem to have anyone with you.”

“I'm not, I have the trees,” she answered.

I looked at her confused, then my eyes widened with realization.

“Are you a nymff,” I asked. “A spirit of the forest?”

“That is none of your concern! Now get out of here, run back to whatever human community you come from. I don't need another mortal soul to get eaten.”

“Well hold on…” I began, but the she-spirit began to push me back in the opposite direction.

“Now!” she yelled.

I turned around to confront her again, but she was gone. A small pile of leaves floated away from where she once stood.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have heeded her warning. But the foolish boy I was went to the bush where the nymff had been peering through. As I looked, I saw nothing but an empty clearing, but as I stood up to turn away, a faint sound of laughter begin to emanate from the same direction. Returning to the bush, I now saw a group of women celebrating around a bonfire. However, these were no ordinary creatures. Their skin was tinted green, and they all wore white dresses and flower crowns. Some played instruments, others sang, but most danced. Among their midsts were a couple of halflings who were also enjoying the activities.

I climbed my way through the bush, where one of the women saw me entering and came over.

“Welcome young one, we were wondering when you were going to join us. Come along.”

Mindlessly, I obliged.

There, I ate their food and sang their songs. I didn't care what these women were doing in the forest, or why their ears were more pointed than those of the elves. I was enchanted, and I joined in their bonfire dance.

They encouraged me and the halflings for hours to dance, faster and longer over time. The hours began to merge, and my feet grew tired. I was ready to rest, to perhaps head home before the sun peeked her head over the horizon. Yet, when I turned to leave, my body continued to dance. I could not stop no matter how hard I tried. I attempted to say something, to yell out, but to no avail.

We danced and danced and danced. The sun had risen and set, and yet the halflings and I were forced to continue dancing for hours. The hours turned into days and I had begun to grow thirsty and pale. But my body, trapped under an enchantment, was forced to continue laughing and dancing around the fire. Despite my lack of nourishment, my body did not falter in its continual rhythmic movements.

Suddenly, one of the halflings collapsed, and the green women crowded around him. They did not touch his flesh, but his form began to shrivel and decay as the green ones cried out in ecstasy. Tears began to stream down the other halflings cheeks, though his face was still stuck in an unnatural smile. For days we continued to dance around the rotting corpse of the halfling, its smell unbearable. I can not recall when the other halfling collapsed, but he too followed in the unfortunate fate of his friend.

It had been weeks when I finally collapsed. The green creatures began to crowd around me like ravenous animals, determined to feast upon my soul.

Suddenly, a rustling came from behind, and a voice cried out,

“You Fae-folk are not welcome in these woods! And I will not allow you to take another mortal spirit.” With that, the sounds of the trees creaking erupted as their roots moved through the ground, surrounding and attacking the Fair-folk. I don't know what the trees did, what fate the Fae-folk met, but their screams silenced shortly after.

I heard the sounds of approaching footsteps, and the nymff from before revealed herself.

“Foolish human, did I not warn you?” She chastised. “You are lucky I pity mortals. The trees will take you back to your village.”
As the trees came close, I closed my eyes, and all faded to darkness.

When I awoke, I lay in a bed. Many of my fellow villagers crowded around my bedside. They asked what had happened to me and where I had been. How was I able to make it back to the village, unconscious and on the brink of death? I tried to tell them what had happened, the horrible events that transpired, but I could not. My tongue would not let me. It felt as if my tongue had been constricted, my mouth physically not allowed to form the correct explanation. When I tried, I simply let out incomprehensible sounds or was simply silent.

Decades later, I sit on my porch, silent, distraught, unable to tell anyone why I have come to loathe singing and dancing, why it is no longer appealing in my eyes. Even now, as I look into the fire my people dance around, I can still see the Fae-folk. I can see them tempting the townsfolk, consuming their souls, leaving them as rotting piles of flesh, and taunting me with their singing and their spells.

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