The War Against the Elves

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.

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17 thoughts on “The War Against the Elves

  1. Pingback: Polling Prompted: Powerful Magic | TIPSY LIT

  2. Ohhhh I like how this twisted.

    Cool (totally incidental) fact – I’ve had a drink at The Eagle and Child, where the Inklings used to meet. It was SUCH a bookgeek moment for me, and a wonderful, old, fascinating pub 🙂

  3. Oh my gosh, I loved the line, “Not another fucking elf!” One of the few times I can say that I *literally* LOLed.

    But even before that moment it was magnificently written. I really liked how you shared the power of the dragons’ wings. You never hear about that, but I imagine when Smaug takes flight it would be enough to send dwarfs, men, horses, small buildings, etc., sailing! The thump of the wind would be deafening — you can probably feel it in your chest.

    Great moral at the end, though too — a good dose of reality could spare a lot of lives — all these unceasing global conflicts.

    Well done!!!!!

    • Hey I managed to to provoke a non-shuddery response at last! Glad you got a lol out of it 🙂

      Well, it’s (allegedly) a true story. Not all of the group appreciated elves and wizards as much as C. S. and J. R. until one evening Hugo Dyson simply had enough and allowed himself an outburst.

      And yes, that’s kind of why I wanted to write an anti-magic story to a magic prompt – why indulge so much in made-up massacres when if you take a look around…

      • No shudders — hooray! 🙂

        But there are enough vicious massacres in the world … ugh …

        When reading LOTR and Hobbit, I loved when the characters were traveling, surviving, meeting new groups of creatures, discovering new lands … and despised the battle depictions.

      • I read The Hobbit when I was 12 and I loved it, but never got around to LOTR. Then, when the first film came out, I remember I was reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and that book is so much more frightening, dramatic, grotesque, fascinating, unreal and insane than any story about monsters and magic could ever be; so the Tolkein industry passed me by, really.

        Although I do still like dragons and elves and mages and knights in X Box games 🙂

      • LOTR’s background mythology can be pretty heavy-handed at times … and the battle scenes glorify war a bit too much for my own tastes. Haven’t read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – the more I learn about that era of history the more terrifying it becomes. The personalities of the leaders of the 3rd Reich — bizarre beyond measure!!!!

      • Oh, definitely, No novelist could have invented that bunch!

        It’s a very interesting book, written by an American journalist who was stationed in Germany in the 30s, so had first-hand experience of the rise of the Reich. But some scenes are just unforgettably horrific, for obvious reasons.

  4. This was fun! I felt like I could feel the heat from the dragon’s breath. Then the dissonance that seeing the name Gandalf gave me, followed by the resolution. I did not know where you were going, but I’m glad we went.

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