Over at the Here Be Magic blog, we recently did a fun series of posts where the writing prompt was “There was a rocking chair in the middle of the forest…” Here was the resulting VERY short 1000 word story that came to my mind:
Eolynd was fascinated by The Rocking Chair in the woods, from the age of five, which is when first she saw it. She and her brothers and sisters were berry picking with their mother and other village children.
“Look, someone’s left a new chair here in the clearing,” Eolynd said, tugging on her older sister Mairea’s hand. “I want to rock in it!”
“No, little one, you can’t sit in that chair.” Her older sister’s voice was hushed.
“Twas left here by the Elf King himself.” Mairea glanced around uneasily. “it’s a trick, an enticement for the unwary.”
“Truly?” Eolynd retreated a step, chewing her lip and thinking this over.
Her sister made the sign of the evil eye. “See how there’s a ring of moss around it and nothing else grows within five feet?”
“If you sit in the chair, the elf king takes you to his hidden realm and you’re never seen again,” said one of the older boys from the village, grabbing Eolynd and swinging her high in the air. He was the red headed one who liked to keep company with Mairea.
“What happens to you there?” Eolynd wanted to know as he set her down.
“We need to be picking berries, not standing here gawking at the Elf King’s chair,” her mother said. “Just you listen to your elders and stay away from that thing.”
“But – “
“Enough, girl. There’s work to be done.”
As she grew older, Eolynd often went to the little clearing in the pines to admire the chair. It seemed rooted in the mossy earth, like a tree perhaps, although it was clearly meant to be a rocking chair. Had it been there so long the earth was swallowing it up? The center of the chair’s back was a beautifully carved woodlands scene, with a proud stag filling most of the center. At a certain time of day a shaft of golden sunlight poured directly on the mysterious item, revealing intricate flowers and leaves carved into the arms and the rockers. The Chair never aged, its wood always gleaming and shiny, no matter how much snow had fallen in the winter or how hard the summer sun baked the forest.
Years passed. Mairea married her red headed suitor and started a family which soon grew to five children. Eolynd’s other siblings became adults, those who didn’t die in the Great Sickness, which also carried off Mairea and both of Eolynd’s parents.
The world became a darker place, with rumors of a war raging between the lord Eolynd’s clan owed alliegance to and invaders from beyond the seas. Most of the men in the village went off to serve as soldiers in the war, leaving the women to keep life going as best they could. Only a few elderly men and younger boys remained and that wasn’t enough the day a marauding band of the enemy fell upon the village, slaughtering everyone they encountered.
Taking Mairea’s youngest girl in her arms, Eolynd fled the carnage and the violence, running headlong into the woods with no clear idea of where she was going. Behind her she heard the screams of the dying mixed with the harsh war cries of the enemy.
And then she heard the baying of the hounds that ran in a fearsome pack with the invaders and her blood ran cold. They’re hunting down the survivors. They’re hunting me!
Now she fled like a terrified doe, the toddler clinging to her silently, but the sound of the dogs came closer and closer. Without clear thought Eolynd ran to the clearing and slid to a halt beside the Chair, silent and beautiful as always.
“I can’t run any more,” she said to the child in between panting breaths.
“They’re coming, Auntie.” The tiny girl hid her face in Eolynd’s skirts. “I’m scared.”
She stroked her hand through the child’s tangled black hair with one hand and leaned on the Chair for support with the other. The wood was satin soft under her hand, cool and faintly scented. The elf king takes you away. That’s what the legend said. “How much worse can it be, to live as a servant of some kind in elfdom?” she said out loud.
Picking up her niece, she sat took a deep breath and sat in the chair, pulse racing.
For a moment nothing happened. The shouts of her pursuers grew louder.
Eolynd scooted back more firmly, holding the girl. “Please, please, elf king, if you exist, take us away.”
Thunder rolled overhead in the clear blue sky. The chair rocked under her. Startled, Eolynd made an attempt to rise but her tired legs wouldn’t obey the command.
“You know the consequences of sitting in my chair,” said a deep voice from the edge of the clearing.
With a half shriek, Eolynd turned to see a black haired warrior astride a magnificent stag, with two wolves sitting on either side. The man was handsome, with a thin golden crown on his brow and rich green and purple raiment. An uncut emerald glinted dully in the massive ring on his finger.
“Yes, yes, I do. Please, the enemy soldiers are coming. They’ll kill us as they’ve done to my entire village. Can you – will you, save us?”
The stag paced forward and the man smiled. “And your name, maiden?”
“Eolynd. This is my niece Roschae.” She patted the child on the shoulder.
“Devonn, king of Elfdom, at your service.” He dismounted, landing beside the Chair. Bowing he, said, “I’ve waited a thousand years for the woman brave enough to sit in my Chair and become my Queen, as the legends foretold.”
As thunder rumbled through the skies, Devonn handed her up into the saddle, placing the child in front of her and led the stag from the clearing, the two wolves trotting behind. The trees seemed to close in behind them, creating an impenetrable barrier. Already forgetting the specifics of her ordeal, Eolynd hugged Roschae and looked eagerly ahead, to their shining destination, off in the distance.
And when the bloodthirsty enemy soldiers burst into the clearing, they saw only an old tree stump, gnarled and bent, hollowed out with age.
I hope you enjoyed my little story! someday I may take it and write a longer version…in the meantime, please hop over to Here Be Magic to read the very different, free short stories our other authors came up with, using that same prompt! You can go to this post or the second day of short stories.