|Original artwork by Laurence Ranger (c)|
Copper drypoint etching
Ten tales to terrify; Leofric gathers his words together in mind and mouth – and sets the sordid scene. Long had he travelled between battle-scarred lands and darker realms; some had feared the storyteller dead, but now around him children and warriors sit enthralled, with eyes ablaze.
Silence, but for the crackle of flaming logs in their pit.
Night begins its giddy dance, casting shadows over the crowds. Leofric’s humming resonates across the ground. It trembles into the seated thighs of all assembled to rise through their very being. Louder and louder the storyteller’s voice sings its single note until...
The audience gasps. Children shriek at the sheer volume and slam pudgy hands over sensitive ears. Leofric stands as quickly as his aged bones will allow, raises his face to the sky and starts to talk.
His first to third perturb, his face a shifting mask under the moon’s fleeting light.
Fourth to sixth disgust, another face for every tale he tells.
Seven and eight, his faces tear apart.
Nine, the face of a demon spills into the storyteller’s skin.
Ten, Aeglaeca steals every screaming face for himself.
The story writes itself.
Pestilence and plague.
The chronicles of death.