The Grove of the Dead
The Alfar of the Deep Wood do not bury their dead. They leave them in lovingly wrapped bundles for the forest to absorb.
The mountain pass that runs between the Breasts once connected the coast directly with an Alfar city named Jewel of the Forest. The road runs along the southern edge of the Grove of the Dead. Though now grown wild, the trees still hold the remnants of the dead. Bones gleam white from the dark wood. High up, the bodies are entombed whole, evidence of the elaborate Alfar funeral rites. Lower down, however, the bones become scattered, and are intermingled with the larger bones of the Svartalfar. The Grove, conditioned to accept the dead, continues to do so.
The Alfar and Svartalfar who live in the area still bring their dead to this place. Brightly colored silks or black dyed leathers wrap the bodies, which are simply left on the forest floor. It’s too dangerous to stay long enough to perform any rituals but, without those rituals, the dead are often restless.
The Grove is populated by vestiges of the living. As the remnants of bodies and weapons are scattered about the forest, so too are the remnants of spirits. Animals come here to die, and the Grove takes their spirits to guard itself. Wraiths of wolves, bears, and mountain lions stalk the under-story. Even the occasional troll, wandering down from the mountains, has lost its life here and left its ghost.
There are Groves like this one scattered throughout the Deep Wood, one for every ancient Alfar community. Most are like this one: filled with the ghosts and spirits of all who have died here since the war. A few have spawned dryads, becoming havens for fae creatures of all kinds. However they have evolved, the Groves of the Dead are still aptly named, though now the meaning is far from the one that the Alfar intended.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.