Shades of the Immortal
They say a land does not forget Elves if once they lived there.
I know it's true. Da and me, we've seen them. No, not the real Elves; they long since passed West.
But the land.
The land remembers.
'Twas in the western pasture, during late harvest when we work right into full darkness to get the hay in. Well beyond twilight.
Twilight though, that's the odd time 'tween waking and dreaming, Da says.
The soft woosh of the scythe through hay is almost mesmerizing. Step, bend, swing, over and over. Boring, hard work it is, but must be done or the stock would starve when snow comes and covers their forage.
The western pasture has always been odd. Queer patterns appear in the wheat at times, as if a great wind had come in the night and danced atop the stalks.
Don't make Da happy; ruins the wheat for normal harvesting. We have to go in with knives and cut it. Slow work, that, but there's no other way to do it when it's all flat on the ground.
Some of our folk won't go near there when the sun starts down. Once it goes toward the old forest, even before it touches the tops of the tallest trees they're in their houses, doors and windows shut tight.
Odd folk. Da don't have much use for 'em.
I was there, cutting with the scythe that night. It's a mindless task and I was not truly awake.
The wind stilled all sudden, and the birds fell silent as the hush of a late autumn twilight descended. The hair on my arms felt like it did the time lightning hit real near, prickling the skin. It got real cold too, I could see my breath puffing out in clouds of white. I looked up, and forgot the scythe's sharp blade in that moment.
They rode out of the forest, tall and terrible in their beauty. Not a sound came from their passing, not even the horse's hooves stirred the dry leaves. Cloaks flowed from their shoulders as if a breeze moved naught but their clothing and hair, leaving stillness in their wake.
They passed the end of our pasture, riding along the western stone wall, and a'times we heard singing. The words were too faint, but the music was haunting beautiful.
They didn't look left nor right, just slowly passed us like some procession of nobles.
The light gleamed from them, within them as they rode clean through the corner stones of the western gate.
Westward. Toward the sea, Da said. That was where the Elves all went.
Even the dogs cowered down, and they never showed fear to any man or woman. Those dogs have chased off wolves!
But not these beings, no sir.
Soon as the last rider, banner twirling in that unseen breeze, passed through the stone they vanished.
Gone, as if they never were.
But I suppose they really weren't. Not for a long time, long before I was born. Da said they left, and the ones who did stay are nothing more than shades in the old forest.
Someday this land will come to me and I'll be working it with my children. I hope they have a chance to see it, the procession of Elves.
Likely be the only Elves they ever see.
They're gone, long passed.
But the land remembers.