in elf land
Over time the Elf Queen’s underjaw has thickened, while her chin has remained small & pointed, her nose turned up: so that you can see, embedded in fat, the adolescent she was fifteen hundred years ago. In her garden she keeps papery silver poppies & an iris which smells of chocolate; but since the Fall of Llyngitgothgethreal, the rest of her life has been half-warm meals in cold rooms. Though he still carries the single strand of her hair she gave him in the grim days before the battle of Clotsore Moor, the dwarf knows that their relationship is over. So when she says, in a final rather desperate move to regain the initiative, that she has decided to go away for a week, he only shrugs.
“I need to get some space,” she tells him.
“Great,” he says vaguely.
“Get right away,” she insists.
“Everyone needs space,” he says.
She leaves the room but calls back, “I can’t think what’s wrong with you.”
The dwarf can’t bring himself to say. As they fail to get older, elves cling on to peak moments & try to repeat them, squeezing a little less out each time until they are only going through the motions. To an outsider this makes their whole society seem grotesque, caricatured, desperate. He doesn’t want to be a party to it any more. He wants to be back underground, where the real things are happening.