Into the Void
An aloof elf who's utterly serene in a candlelit bloodbath.
Much can be said about Marlon Brandywine, from his sure-shot proficiency with a bow to his surreptitious proclivity for blood. Perhaps, though, it is his origin that best conveys his nature. Long ago, Marlon’s mother—a good-nature’d elf, aptly attuned with the forest and all its inhabitants—was informed by a forest sprite that she would bear twins. Though blissfully excited by the news, Marlon’s mother was quickly admonished by the sprite, who warned that a heart as pure as hers was a doorway for darkness. But in the following months, thrilled by the prospect of twins, Marlon’s mother quickly allowed the sprite’s foreboding remarks to slip from her memory.
The birth of Marlon was quite seamless. In fact, while most babies enter the world crying, Marlon entered the world laughing, covered in blood and all of the other miraculous fluids of life. However, Marlon’s twin, a brother, didn’t have such a gracious introduction. After 18 hours of excruciating labor, Marlon’s twin brother was born silent and still. The scene was a horror show as Marlon’s father, an elf with unyielding optimism, struggled to undue the knot of the umbilical cord fixed around the neck of his lifeless son. His son’s precious head had been inflated like a blue balloon, and Marlon, watching wide-eyed, was still laughing.
But the sun continued to rise and fall, and time had a way of dulling some of the sharper memories harbored by the Brandywine triad. For some time, it seemed as if happiness was within reach of Marlon’s parents. Marlon’s mother took up herbalism, culling medicinal plants from the verdant forest and documenting her findings in her commonplace book. Marlon’s father also kept himself distracted with druidic arts, sharing the secrets of the forest with the many creatures that inhabited it. It was a tranquil time indeed…until the humans came.
It was the eve of Marlon’s fifth birthday. Through a window, the moon lit the kitchen with an ethereal glow as Marlon’s mother rested the finishing garnish atop a boiling pot of decadent mushroom cap and silk worm stew. Marlon’s father was draping a cotton-cloth napkin when three knocks crashed into the front door. Expecting the company of a woodland friend, Marlon’s father swung the door open and was instantly blinded by a rolling inferno of fire. There were men on horseback circling in a formation and swinging torches in the night sky. There were cacophonous chants of revenge and violence. Swords were unsheathed, bows were drawn, and one man, decorated in ebony armor, dismounted his steed and approached Marlon’s father. “Where is he?” he said.
“Where is who,” said Marlon’s father. Two arrows darted to the left and right of his head, both piercing halfway through the door behind him.
The ebony knight hesitated and looked back at his horde of warriors. “Search the house!” he shouted, “Bring me the child.” He turned to Marlon’s father, who was assuring a misunderstanding, and gutted him by the waistline with a clean swipe of his dagger.
But they didn’t find the child. Marlon, who was a half-mile away, hunched over and breathing heavily, watched from the dense brush as the inferno grew and enveloped his home and the only people who loved him. It would be his final and formative memory of his childhood.
To this day, the beasts, giants, trolls, and every creature of the forest continue to honor the loss of the Brandywine elves in what they perceived to be an unfortunate, accidental house fire, with special regard to the loss of the poor, innocent child, Marlon.
But not the sprites…No, they are far more apt at distinguishing the darkness from the light.