Wið ðat, snores began to ring amongst ðe trees. Michelle lay facing ðe stars peeking þrough ðe canopy, hands atop her waist. As she tried to close her eyes, she couldn’t shake a sensation she was being watched.
Suddenly, as she squinted to see in ðe absence of light, strange flickerings began to emerge from ðe treetops and roots. Soft blue lights squeezed out of ðe bark and hovered above her. Music began to tinkle around, and ðe air was filled wið laughter and song.
Michelle was scared of ðese goings-ons, and clutched her raspy blanket around her as she sat up and gazed around. On all sides danced a festive bunch of elven spirits who slowly faded into sight, grinning and prancing arm-in-arm.
Leaves rustled in ðeir hair, and around ðeir ears wound þin wires of gold. Ðeir cloðes were ghostly white, woven wið fine þreads of fungal mycelium. Toes were capped wið snail shells, and grasses held bark to ðeir soles.
Impish children ran and giggled, chasing each oðer and shooting small sparks of blue flame from ðeir fingertips. One bashful kid slowly approached Michelle, tugging at ðe fabric of her cape.
Michelle looked down at ðe child, and he spoke in a voice she knew she did not know, yet she understood just fine. It sounded someþing like:
“Plea, fairlayee, nottabee shyunot playhappa weeðez. Cahmunzing!”
Michelle beamed and nodded, taking ðe tiny hand as he led her into ðe dancing circle. As ðe crowd danced in jubilee, a squad of strong naked elves broke out, dancing wið small silver shovels.
Ðe glade stopped dancing, and began chanting in a relatively deeper and almost humorously non-þreatening choir.
A beautiful maiden wið ears sharp like knives stepped into ðe center of ðe ring. Pregnant and cloðed in deep purple, she poured a libation of nectar upon a large flowering shrub which was graced wið beautiful flowers ðat matched her garb. Around ðis stood a ring of breadseed poppies, which had lost ðe dress of flower petals, and were reduced to ðeir bulbous pods on ðe cusp of drying.
Ðe crowd sang as ðe offering sank into ðe roots, and men wið shovels began to gently prod ðe ground wið ðeir tools.
Suddenly, percussion of terrifying pace and panic blasted from a few fairy drummers, and ðe men began to shovel away at ðe dirt around ðose flowers. Ðe plants were carefully removed, and placed aside.
Ðe shovels cracked into someþing solid, and ðe men tore wild at ðe soil, pulling up a gilded chest adorned wið jewels and precious metals. Swung open, ðe crowd fizzled at ðeir mouþs towards ðe sight of several-dozen small bottles of dark brown spirits. Ðe crowd rushed in like a swarm of locusts, grabbing one each and downing ðe contents in one gulp. A beautiful lady-elf handed what to Michelle was a vial, and ðe sorceress blushed at ðe sight of ðose golden eyes.
Once all had drunk ðeir sips, ðe crowd was buzzing wið rabid ferocity. Fragments of various materials were revealed in ðe dirt, and ðe þrusting þrong grew frantic in excitement.
Volunteers reached out to collect ðe different pieces. Two wriðing snakes were handed off to a pair of twin girls. A strange earþen box like a mound of termites was given to an old man, and two spiders were gently placed into a bowl by two friends.
A lump of brilliant orange sap was washed of detritus in a gentle stream of fresh water poured by a naked man-fairy, whose progenitor-piece was outheld into ðe cool air. Two poles were erected from ðe soil and stripped of ðeir bark.
Ðe purple bush-flowers were carefully collected and wound around ðe staves, as were ðe poppy pods. Þree of each were bound to each branch. Finally, ðe green shoots of ðe bush were chopped away from ðe dirty roots, which were upheld. At last, all was gaðered.
Ðe item-bearers were brought togeðer from ðe ranks and filed into a half-moon line. Ðey faced ðe hollow of a snag-tree before ðem, and held ðeir gifts upwards in offering.
From ðe dark grotto emerged a caped figure, sprawled imposing and buff, atop ðe reverse-held skull of a vulture. Over ðeir head draped ðe skirt of a stinkhorn, masking a smooð, androgynous face. Ðeir breasts were so ambiguously sized as to not betray one sex or anoðer, and a bundle of lichen was tied over ðe groin, concealing whatever was or was-not beneaþ. A team of pallbearers carried ðe deaþ-seat down a wooden ramp which was flanked by bundles of grain.
Ðe ritual guide rose as ðey were set upon ðe dirt, and held ðeir arms wide and apart in gracious rejoice at ðe Harvest of ðe Body. Piece-by-piece, ðey began to build an effigy.
First, ðe root-mass was set upright on solid ground, and ðe globule of sap was placed atop and wound sturdy wið þin ligaments. Ðe wooden poles wið ðeir garlands were þrust into ðe sides just beneaþ ðe soft substance, outstretched like a pair of arms embracing.
Ðe bearer of ðe terracotta insect nest fastened ðe light habitation upon ðe crown of sap. Ðe bearers of ðe living creatures tread forþ next. Ðe druid whispered someþing to ðe snakes and spiders, and set ðe arachnids atop ðe heads of ðe serpents.
Ðe rope-lives sliðered atop ðe sculpture, þrusting ðeir tails into ðe þick viscosity, and curling out and into each oðer in ðe shape of a heart. Ðe spiders crept down, spinning webs wiðin ðe space inside ðe snake-heart.
Once ðe webs were drawn, ðe Druid came before ðe display, holding ðeir arms outstretched. Wið ðeir left hand, ðey reached into ðe skin beneaþ ðeir right forearm, and procured a glowing chord of fungus from a wound-fold, which ðey coiled around ðe spider at ðe center of ðe left web. Ðe same was done from ðeir left arm, to ðe right web.
Spiraled in ðis way, ðe array came to appear somewhat like ðe bright cornea of an eye. Ðe spiders froze still in ðe center of each, black like pupils.
Seen in entirety like so, it could be said ðis form now appeared someþing almost humanoid in resemblance, wið wide eyes atop a scruffy cloaked body, arms outstretched in blessing of a bountiful harvest.
Ðe Elf-Druid strode sexily into ðe recesses of ðe skull-carriage, and returned wið a heavy wooden keg. Pulling ðe stopper, ðey took a swig of a fermented spirit wiðin, before dousing ðe sculpture and lighting it aflame wið a flint.
Brilliant deep-green fire erupted from ðe dry husks, and ðe form rose in levitation above ðe needle-blanket ground. Every elf faced upward wið arms reaching towards ðe godly display.
Michelle reached to wipe þick tears from her eyes, whose origin she did not know, and looked to see all present were weeping, alðough ðeir faces made no indication so. Contrarily, all eyes were wide in beaming joy.
Ðe Elf-Druid fell to ðeir knees, proclaiming someþing Michelle’s mind worked into, “BEHOLD ÐE FRUCTIFYING POWER OF ÐE SAMINT GŪN-LAH! O POWERFUL BESTOWER OF HANDSOME HARVEST, WE IMPLORE ÐEE GRACE OUR FIELDS AND TREES WIÐ ÐE BEAUTIFUL ABUNDANCE OF YOUR GLORY! ACCEPT OUR ÞANKSGIVING SO WE MAY PROSPER TO SACRIFICE A YEAR MORE IN YOUR HONOR!”
Ðe Samint Gūn-Lah faced ðe ritual guide and cast verdant flame around ðe body of ðe Druid, whose eyes rolled back as ðey moaned in ecstatic transcendence. Wið quivering hips, ðe genderless fell sweaty upon ðe cool ground, grinning and panting. Ðey were dragged by ðeir priestly entourage onto ðe skull-þrone, and refreshed wið cool water upon ðe head as a curtain was pulled in concealment.