Tales from Elrond
The Harrowing Tale of the Wind Serpent
The Old Crone’s Theater: Act Four
A dulled moon poked through the soggy cloud cover hanging over the valley. The dim light of the midnight hour cast a huge shadow across the cold silhouette of the Sacred Stone Monastery. Hidden within a rocky outcropping deep within the valley’s hills, the low burning embers of a campfire crackled and warded off the late night chill.
Hunched against a rock, Allegro stared silently into the glowing embers. He could make out the form of the Dwarf calling himself Brunldenthar resting nearby. Loose and makeshift bandages covered the dwarf’s form, and the steady rhythm of his breathing suggested the dwarf was deep in slumber.
Allegro dug his finger into the dirt before him, drawing a crude series of pictures. As the halfling’s eyes began to glaze over, his finger began to move quicker across the ground. The shadows cast by the low embers began to wash over the drawing, making the pictures themselves come to life.
“This is the story of Wind Serpent.” The Crone’s voice whispered from the darkness. The crude drawing of a long thing snake began to slither and coil itself across the ground.
“Wind Serpent was very vane. He believed himself to be the most beautiful and interesting creature in the animal kingdom. When he coil himself and barred his fangs, crowds of people would look upon him with awe and admiration.” A mass of silhouettes moved around the snake and seemed to shake with cheer and applause.
“But this meager fame was not enough for Wind Serpent. He noticed how many more people would crowd around Peacock, mesmerized by her beautiful plumage. She would dance and shake her feathers, and other animals would cheer and give her gifts. This made Wind Serpent jealous.” The crowd surrounding the snake dispersed and formed around the drawing of a peacock. As the shadows faded, the silhouettes left and the peacock lay her head down to sleep.
“One night, as Peacock slept, Wind Serpent silently entered her room. He struck her with his fangs, paralyzing her and allowing him to steal her feathers. Peacock struggled against his venom, and eventually screamed out for help— but it was too late. By the time the other animals arrived, Wind Serpent was gone, and Peacock was left crippled and ugly.” The drawing of the snake descended upon the peacock before slipping away. When the silhouettes returned, they gasp in horror at the deformed peacock left in the snake’s wake.
“Now Wind Serpent drew a bigger crowd. They gasped at his fangs, cheered at his graceful movements, and admired his beautiful plumage. Yet still Wind Serpent was not happy. He saw the large crowd of animals admiring Baboon as he danced and swung from the trees. Again this angered Wind Serpent, why were people paying him less attention than Baboon?” A drawing of a baboon swung across the outlines of trees with a throng of onlookers below.
“Again, Wind Serpent descended upon his perceived foe. He followed Baboon one morning deep within the forest. With no one around, Wind Serpent knocked Baboon from a branch, and watched as he tumbled to the hard ground below. As Baboon cried out in pain, Wind Serpent stole his strong arms and dexterous hands. Leaving the crippled Baboon behind, Wind Serpent swung through the forest, back to the animal kingdom.” The drawing of the snake coiled itself around the trees and leapt from branch to branch as the deformed silhouette of the Baboon faded into the distance.
“Beautiful, strong, and graceful, Wind Serpent now began to attract followers and fans. He loved the attention and fame he received, but still it was not enough. With his new followers, he continued to prey upon his fellow animals. He stole Rabbit’s strong legs and enthralled his fans with feats of jumping and acrobatics. He stole grasshopper’s wing’s and played beautiful music for his fans. He even stole Owl’s eyes and the wisdom and knowledge stored within. Soon, Wind Serpent’s name was known far and wide.” The drawing of the snake began to grow in size as more and more silhouettes flocked around it.
“One day, the king and queen held a party. Many animals were invited from across the land, including Wind Serpent. He thought that the royal family wanted him to perform and entertain them with his many talents. But when he arrived, he found out that the king and queen were more interested in Mockingbird. They loved to hear him sing and tell his many stories. The children of the castle especially loved the shows that Mockingbird would perform with his many voices. Wind Serpent was more angry and jealous than he had ever been before.” A less crude and more detailed drawing of a bird flew across the ground. Smaller birds and many silhouettes crowded around him as musical notes fluttered from his beak.
“As the king and queen slept, Wind Serpent and his followers descended upon Mockingbird and his family. They attacked swiftly and without mercy. Mockingbird was forced to watch as his friends and family were killed before his eyes. Wind Serpent’s followers beat Mockingbird relentlessly. They broke his wings, tore out his feathers, and cut his flesh repeatedly. Lying in a pool of his dead family’s blood, the beaten Mockingbird cried out asking to die— but Wind Serpent had a far crueler fate in store. He stole Mockingbird’s beautiful voice, and left him broken admits the corpses of his loved ones.” Soft screams echoed in the distance as silhouettes descended upon the birds. The crude drawings tore themselves apart, leaving the snake standing over the beaten bird. With a flick of his tongue, the snake began to grow in size, enveloping the others until they faded from view entirely.
“Now Wind Serpent wanders the animal kingdom, performing for riches and fame using his stolen talents. His victims remain alive, least their gifts fade from existence, but with their broken bodies and malformed features, such life is nothing but a curse. It is sad that such a tale of vanity and envy has such a tragic and unhappy ending, but such stories rarely end on a happy note…” The drawing of the snake began to grow bigger and bigger, an evil grin forming on his face. In the background, a hideous laughter filled the air. The laughter was deep and dark and full of malice, yet somehow sounded beautiful and sweet.
Allegro’s eyes slowly snapped back to reality. The embers had died out, and the first rays of the early morning sun began to peak over the horizon. He looked down at the crude drawing of a serpent in the dirt before him and was surprised to see his dagger buried hilt deep in the snakes neck. Retrieving his weapon, the halfling stood while halfheartedly wiping away the visage of the snake.
As Brunldenthar continued to rest unaware of the night’s events, a small dark figure slowly began to make it’s way toward the slumbering monastery.