The Eye of the North
Work in Progress
Standing 6’5”, this stocky creature stares at the world through garnet eyes. Beneath his leaf-twined armor, his pebbly skin is mottled like decaying autumn leaves. His hair is interwoven with bramble, twigs and leaves, blending seamlessly with his own green locks. His sword looks like a sharpened branch, but shines like steel over the grain. The shield looks like bark freshly broken off a thick truck, covered in long nettles. On his shoulder sits a barn owl so blue it looks like it froze to death long ago, searching the horizon with an eternally surprised expression.
“Al o’ the Green” is the folk name of a creature native to the ice-covered forests of the Winterlands, a legend in his own time who came to stand against the might of the greatest minds of the past.
Travelers to the woods tell stories of becoming lost in snow flurries, only to find a small shack, surrounded by fauna who don’t know fear. Weary from the trail, he calls to the house for shelter, only to hear the hooting of an owl, seemingly sounding his death knell. Exhaustion overcomes them, and he fears the worst. Upon waking, he finds himself in a earthen shack with a small fire, being tended by a man who looks identical to the earth pack walls around him. A shining sword sits in the corner, resting upon a large shield covered in thorny spikes. A rustle from above draws the eyes to a sky-blue barn owl, tilting it’s head side to side as it stares down at the bed-ridden traveler. Sleep overcomes him, but first he hears something akin to grinding stones and shifting earth: “Nein Poof, du kanst sheize im der Mann’s kopf.” He awakes, fed and clothed, at the side of his intended trail.
Hunters tell a very different story. The old ones speak of a wood wose who watches, always, from the periphery, ensuring that each one takes the least from the woods. The young ones tell of chasing down does and fauns, only to turn a corner and find a sword brought down upon their knocked arrow, shaving a few hairs and years off their lives. But the stories told the most are of the ones who don’t return, who tramp through the woods to challenge the specter. For them, there is to hut, there is no warning. There is no time. Only screams from deep within the wood, then nothing. The body is never found, but when an old innkeeper shuts up his shop for the night and hears a knock, he knows he’ll find a neatly wrapped pile of gear and partially salvageable clothing beneath it, waiting to be put to better use.