Elwin worked his way around the small kitchen making his evening cup of tea. While the water boiled in the pot he shuffled his way back to the den to get out his pipe and tobacco. He packed the pipe and with a flick of his wrist lit it before heading back to the kitchen to finish making the tea. This was his favorite time of day, when he could sit back and continue on with the greatest work of his life. He remembered back to the day he had struck the deal with Lord Robin, in exchange for guarding the package he would be allowed to educate the human population with what they needed to know. For decades he had been planting the seeds, slipping hints into his books that only the right people would understand. He opened the secret compartment in the end table he drew out the battered manuscript. Once the time was right he would be allowed to reveal all to the entire human population and they would rally behind Robin and the Fairies to battle against the Demon Son and his ruthless Vampire hoards. Elwin knew in his heart that this was the right thing to do. Normally working on his final manuscript would bring him a certain kind of calm, knowing that he was fulfilling his great purpose, but for some reason on this night he was uneasy, as if a blanket had been drawn across his heart. The early sunset had left a chill in the air that dug into Elwin’s soul.
The noise from out in the garden was the first thing that alerted him that it was more than just a feeling of trouble coming, but that something was truly wrong. He made his way through the cottage as fast as he could stopping for only a moment to collect the crossbow and stakes from inside the backdoor. Rushing out in the garden as quickly as his bad leg would allow, he was stunned at the scene that stretched out in front of him. A large fire had been lit around Jack the flames digging into his bark as he twisted around in silent agony, somehow unable to find a voice to express the pain.
Elwin dropped the crossbow and rushed forward, stumbling over and trying to scatter the wood that fed the horrible carnage.
“Jack, can you hear me,” Elwin begged. “Who has done this to you?”
In his determination to help his friend he did not even feel the first iron spike as it penetrated his right shoulder and dug into the tree. It was not until he looked down and saw it that the pain registered in his brain. By the time he tried to move the second the second was driven through his left lodging him in place trapped against his oldest friend. Elwin tried to turn to face his attacker in vain, but it did not matter. He knew who he was dealing with.
“It has been quite a while, Elwin” Feverstone hissed in his ear. “I have been meaning to get back here to finish what we had started.”
“You should have told me you were coming,” Elwin winced, trying to maintain his dignity. “I have nothing prepared for you.”
“Do not worry Elwin; I shall not be staying long.” Feverstone replied. “I have just come for something that belongs to my master. And as much as I would enjoy standing here watching you and the oak suffer, I must get to my task while the darkness remains.”
Elwin could hear Feverstone turn and stride back towards the cottage. Elwin knew that without permission there was no way for Feverstone to enter the cottage. He strained his hearing trying to determine what his adversary was trying to do. The sound of the flames soon reached his ears and he realized that since he could not enter Elwin’s home Feverstone was going to be content with burning it to the ground. Elwin hung suspending in place by the cruel spikes listening as the fire grow and consumed more and more of his life, destroying his home slowly and eating up all of his unfinished works. The hours that it took for the fire to work its course felt like a lifetime, but finally the sounds of the flames died out and were replaced with Feverstone sifting through the rubble. Elwin hoped against all odds that his hiding place was still intact and would be able to conceal its contents until the rise of the sun. When he heard Feverstone return from his search he began to despair.
“It truly is beautiful.” Feverstone mused, running the flat side of the black blade across Elwin’s back. “Has your master ever told you what it is?”
Elwin tried to speak, to challenge his old enemy one last time, but the strain of the last several hours immobilized had left nothing in him.
“The little dwarf Mulciber was one day staring into the flames that lit Vulcan’s forge, and in those flames he saw the coming of the end. He knew that it was his destiny to help create the blades that would lead both sides.” Feverstone lectured. “He fled from his master and found the greatest of all human sword smiths. Together they created the blades, two of brightest silver and two of blackest iron, one blade for each of the Lords, and one blade for each of the heirs. However when Jenks realized what they created he betrayed us all and hide the blades. Most of us believed them a legend until the Dark Lady dispatched the pirate to find them. Now here I find one of the Black Blades in your hands. It makes perfect sense of course. That fop Prince of yours would need someone who could actually touch the blade in order to hide it.”
Elwin caught a glint in the surface of the blade as Feverstone ran it across his shoulder, taunting Elwin with it.
“Now that I have it, it would appear that your usefulness has come to an end.” Feverstone explained.
Elwin never felt that blade fall and sever his head from his neck.
But the time morning light shone down on the garden what little life remained in the ancient tree was slowly ebbing away, and at its base the headless corpse of its best friend remained pinned to the trunk.