Pandemonium struck and the buckling castle walls shook under the ceaseless hail of missiles and the weight of flailing, dying bodies. Vast wings blotted out the sky. The raging fires that scarred so much of the hillside, and turned the homesteads to ash, choked the air with unbreathable fumes. The sun blinked through the debris like a livid, purple stain; to the naked eye it appeared like a seeping wound that had been made in the atmosphere itself, mimicking the wounds of the staggering armies that clashed together. Those reeking wounds seeped with the brains and guts of elves and ogres and orcs, wizards and dwarves and hobbits; both heroes and cowards alike.
Overhead, legions of dragons spat hell in every direction. Their roaring maws fried the flesh from those poor souls whose fate had seen them fall immediately in the paths of the merciless beasts. Their closest companions fared little better, the dragons’ boiling breath squeezing the oxygen from the baffled soldiers’ lungs for miles around. Even the dragons’ howling wing-beats sent limping stragglers tumbling across the rocks, bones shattering with the impact.
The devastation was inescapable, from horizon to horizon. As far as Gandalf could espy from his isolated perch atop the castle’s highest, still-standing, crag of a tower, no one and nothing remained unscathed. Was all, then, lost? Was the time of ceaseless inhumanity at hand? The old wizard’s heart thudded heavily in his breast. Then his weary eye alighted on the blood-soaked, but still vigorous, splendid form of the Elf King…
At Magdalen College, in the rooms of C. S. Lewis, the atmosphere had grown unbearably tense as the scene of carnage unfolded. Tolkein’s usually droning voice had risen to an extreme pitch of excitement as he recounted to the little group of friends and fellow writers (the Inklings, as they called themselves) the latest terrors faced by Middle Earth, his trembling manuscript held open before him.
Tolkein positively yelped with sorrow as he shared in his wizard’s pain. So much so, that Hugo Dyson, a noisy and no-nonsense member of the Inklings, who taught English at Merton College, was startled from the dozing posture he’d quietly sunk into at the back of the room. “W-what…?” Dyson mumbled, to no one in particular, as he reacquainted himself with his whereabouts and his wits. Fed-up that his nap had been interrupted, Dyson’s bleary eyes fixed on Tolkein, only catching the last, dismal words the author had uttered.
Dyson snorted, “Oh no! Not another fucking elf!” and marched out of the room. The spell was well and truly popped. The made-up battle vanished from view and no made-up lives were lost. A brisk dose of reality can be a powerful magic. It works wonders.
This short story was written in response to the latest TipsyLit writing prompt: For this week’s prompt, your character has access to a rare and forbidden magic that will answer a current need. Does he/she use it? All of the stories written for the prompt can be read by clicking on the image below.