Quercus’ Tale ((AUDIO BOOK))
Many years ago, high above the ground, hidden within the interwoven boughs of many mighty oaks, the two elven finalists were down to their last target (1). Both in their early teens – for elves – and the closest of friends almost since birth, they were each totally focused on winning this most prestigious archery tournament. They were bound to use only true skill and no magic.
Master Quercus and the Lady Ilumia were tied for first place. All other competitors had been eliminated far back in the competition. They each had one arrow left to send toward the far distant swinging target. Ilumia readied to fire first. The crowd hushed. This shot could clinch the tournament and Quercus’ first loss – ever! Raising her hand, she tested the air for movement. She studied the target motion. She focused so intensely that the entire world around her vanished from her perception. Her world was only her and her target. Nothing else existed. Drawing the arrow back, she held but for a second, then released it. It sped true and the crowd cheered wildly! She had scored a dead center bull’s-eye; a perfect shot!
Quercus immediately congratulated and tenderly hugged his best friend and competitor.
She secretly whispered in his ear; “Remember our wager, if I win, or should I say, WHEN I win, that majestic bow”, the one he was now using, “is mine”.
He smiled and kissed her on the cheek – whispering in her ear; “When I win, you are my date to the Starlight Yule celebration”.
Stepping into position, Quercus readied his final arrow. The gathered elves again became deathly silent. Quercus, turning towards the large assembly of spectators, bowed to them then smiled at Ilumia; seductively winking his eye. Ilumia faintly smiled back then held her breath.
Quercus appeared to be totally relaxed when, in truth, he was as tightly focused as Ilumia had been. He breathed one long, deep breath, drew back the bow string and immediately fired. The crowd was silent for one shocked moment and then they roared. He split her arrow! His arrow struck hers exactly in the center and split it into two parts; both falling away from the target! Only his arrow remained.
Ilumia threw her hands into the air and laughed hysterically. She then hugged Quercus and gave him a real kiss; fully on the lips, in front of everyone including their parents!
Such was their friendly competitiveness. In running and climbing, she nearly always won. In species magic and woodworking she almost always won. In archery, Quercus ALWAYS won against her and all others.
During the Yule celebration, under the bright wintery stars, surrounded by hundreds of glowing illume rods (2) which added to the light of the moon, Quercus took both of her hands in his, and said to her; “Illumia, you are the sun in my day and the stars in my night. You are the only love of my life. Will you honor me by accepting my pledge of lifelong love and fidelity?”
“Quercus, you are my most trusted friend and companion” she responded.
Then she paused for a moment and looked at him.
“You have always stood beside me in times of stress”.
The she hesitated again and smiled at him. Quercus was trembling. Would she say no?
“You are the love of my life. You, and only you, fill my heart with joy”
Then she paused a third, longer time and savored watching the mighty Quercus squirm.
“Of course I accept! Silly man. Why did you wait so long?”
Their kiss following her acceptance of his pledge nearly caused the moon to blush.
Over the next few years, Quercus and Ilumia lovingly shared their lives, their bodies and all of their being. They were an example and model for true elven love.
Quercus was on a hunting trip with many of the bowmen and women. Ilumia was helping shape and guide the growth of young oak tree into becoming a part of their enchanted home when disaster struck. A massive party of strange, simian-like creatures swarmed into, over and through the mighty oaks of their enchanted homeland. The elves fought bravely. Many of the creatures died from arrow, sword and dagger. But, there were far too many for the peaceful elves. Their homeland was overrun and all within, mostly the elderly, women and children, were mercilessly slaughtered. The elves in the hunting party felt their deaths, and instantly rushed to their aid – but they were too late. They found only death and destruction. Their families and friends were all slaughtered. Even their pet birds and squirrels were torn into pieces. Many – animals and elves – were partially eaten!
Quercus wailed, “Noooo…” and fondly hugged his dear, dead Ilumia. He held her and cried for many hours.
Working through their unimaginable sorrow and deep pain at their loss, the surviving elves examined several of the strange, dead creatures. They were grotesque! They had long, strong arms and legs like a great ape with the jaws and teeth of a black wolf. Their eyes were large and nearly black. They had been armed with clubs and crude axes and were obviously tree climbers. They were covered in filth and insects and their smell was sickening. The elves, lacking any other words to describe them, called them Ugs.
Quercus’ intense grief turned to rage, and, finally, into an icy cold resolve!
“They will see justice for this, and I will be her instrument!” He swore.
He and two carefully selected companions, after assuring that the dead would receive a proper burial, swore an oath to secure justice for the fallen and left in pursuit of the Ugs. Each elf carried a full quiver of black feathered arrows with deadly poisoned tips. It had been many years since an elf of their homeland had carried the Black Death arrows.
Silently running through their very well-known forest, they quickly caught up with the slower moving Ugs. One by one, silently, seemingly from out of nowhere, they systematically brought down the foul creatures. At first, the Ugs devoured their slain companions, but quickly learned that the poison was just as effective when ingested. When there were but two remaining, the three elves used strong, light nets to capture them. With ropes around their necks and poisoned arrows constantly aimed at them, these two vicious and violent Ugs were forced to lead the elves to the cave where they had come from.
The subterranean path led deeply down to a large cavern filled with cages and recently used instruments of both physical and magical manipulation. Nothing else was alive within the cavern. There were many signs of grotesque torture and execution style killing. Several female Ugs and young were found dead within their cages. A few elven bodies were also found and appeared to have been used to enrage and feed the Ugs; most likely providing a scent for those that attacked the elven homeland.
Within the cavern, the remaining Ugs made their final attempt to escape by attacking their elf guards; and quickly died in that attempt. Quercus and his companions realized that the number of cages far exceeded the number of Ugs that they had encountered. There were at least a hundred more unaccounted for!
Who had created these gross, violent abominations? Why?
The elves returned to their homeland and rejoined their remaining kinsmen. Together, they disassembled the remaining dwellings and removed all trace of their ever having lived there.
Many bid their farewells and left to seek kinsmen in other elven communities – and to warn them of the existence and threat of the Ugs.
Quercus took seven of the remaining fighters and formed a hunting party dedicated to seeking out and eliminating the remaining Ugs. This party grew as other elven communities encountered the Ugs and soon Quercus was captain of a sizable company of elven sword and bowmen and women.
((When you are traveling at night through a mighty forest, listening to the peaceful sounds of nature, remember, your peace and safety was won and is constantly preserved by Quercus and his dedicated soldiers.))
Quercus and his party, after setting several of their unique Ug snares and traps all around the town, entered Meren Beach about the same time as Tomasian, and …
But that is another Tale for another day.
To continue Quercus’ story, please read “The Last Tale of T’Lar” by RJ Borton
- Venturers of Airth ® Species: Elf
- Venturers of Airth ® Species Spell: Illume
- Venturers of Airth ® Species Conclave Spell: Enchant Homeland
by RJ Borton 9/25/2014, updated 02/04/2017
This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, species, classes, places, things, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblances to fictitious or actual persons living or dead and events or locales real or imaginary are entirely coincidental.
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