Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Endlings & Terminarchs

Elves are a dying breed.

In fact, you could say they are already dead- the name "elf" certainly is, at any rate.

Those withered, rail-thin people were never the most vigorous. One of the reasons for their exceptionally long lifespan is that they acted upon the world with an almost geological slowness. Sure, they're hasty compared to a treant or an earth elemental, but they could outwit either handily- for their minds ran faster than a human's, allowing them to play every scenario out dozens of times before they commit to a single, stubborn course of action.

Some believe that they exist in multiple points of time or existence at once, and their slowness to act is a consequence of rallying those disconnected facets together.

Looking at them now, one could be excused for believing that they barely exist in our universe at all.

They resemble mummies more than anything, with bony extremities, sunken faces, leathery skin of a bruised, pale blue color, and torsos that leave little of their bone structure to the imagination. When they have hair, it is long, thin, wispy, and grey. Among those who still have functional eyes, yellow is the most common color- and they always seem to resemble the eyes of someone who is screaming. Distinguishing sex characteristics are almost wholly withered away, not that they had much of a use for them- they reproduced by some other means which is now lost to them, and it can never be regained.

They are loathe to speak of how this happened- they are loathe to speak in general, really. It may have been a curse, or a deal with some entity that came back to bite them. perhaps they were rendered infertile epochs ago, and only managed to get along by abusing a nonrenewable ritual resource plus borrowed time.

The youngest elves were born millennia ago, and they have already pushed their species' life expectancy with preservative magic. Now their life energy is stretched thinner than common sense is across aristocrats. It is only a matter of time, and none know that more keenly than the elves themselves, rapid minds left to race within their slow, ambling bodies. It is a hellish experience, not unlike a waking coma at times.

In their melancholy they renamed themselves the Endlings, and the youngest among them is their leader in futility- their Terminarch. The Terminarch is the most spry among them, relatively speaking, and they deal with matters requiring the most urgency. Other than that, there is little to the office- they primarily bear the burden of being the assumed last to die, and the immense psychic guilt that knowledge carries with it.

They walk in the most desolate parts of the world now, seeking out a secluded place where they might preserve the memory of their people before lying down to rot.

Or perhaps they seek out a way to liberate themselves from their wretched bodies- either through the release of death, or something more transcendent.

There might be some wisdom in seeking them out while they yet live, assuming they will hold audience with you- and that you have the patience to wait and listen to them speak in what is simultaneously the slowest and most frantic manner.

Ascendent Counselor by Andrew Jones

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