Can you hear the Hunter’s Horn,
Sounding in the forest deep?
Can you hear the pounding of hoovesWhen night creeps in and people sleep?
In the dark night can you feel
That rush of wind- that fleeting chill?
Standing in the night-time woodWhat will be his latest kill?
The sound of Horns and Hounds filled the twilight sky with its chilling symphony. On this night it was a sound that would be heard by the ears of all, not just the fae. There were stories across all Peoples, all Lands, all Kingdoms great and small of the Wild Hunt. For some it was a mere children's cautionary tale, and was laughed about by parents who sat by the warmth and protection of their fire. For others it was a lore passed down and whispered as a warning to loved ones so they might leave offerings outside their door. It did not bother the Erlking either way for Justice and Balance would reach into the home of the non believer as easily as it did the keeper of the old ways.
For the Fae it was a day of celebration. If their names were written upon the List then they knew how hopeless it was to run from the braying Shucks teeth or the swing of the dulachán's blade, so in their eyes it was better to end their life drunk on wine and in a tangle of bodies. For those that did survive it was cause of great celebration to be gifted another year on this plain of existence. They drifted here, to this spot, every year to see who would live and who would die. And on this night all were welcome no matter the past or bonds of Courts. Tonight they were all the same. All were at the mercy of the Wild Hunts Lists.
In the clearing will-o-wisps lit the pathways through the Wilds towards the clearing where the festivities were taking place. More of the smaller fae along with fire sprites decorated tree branches and darker corners to give the Higher Fae the light they wanted. Autumn had seized a hold of the great Wilds meaning its trees were proudly showing off their leaves in shades of tarnished gold, ruby reds and rich chestnut browns. Little else had been done in the way of decoration, the Autumn Court choosing to let the beauty of the Wilds speak for itself. Tables and chairs had been grown using earthen magic from the trees around them so as not to disturb the natural way of the Wilds. Food and drink covered every surface. There were golden wines from Dawn, fresh berries from Summer, delicious cured meats from Spring, and hearty soups with thick bread from Winter. Even peculiar delicacies from those of the Night, Dusk and Day Courts could be found on offer. Musicians played atop one of the various bulbous bits of land and the music they wove instead of blotting out the noise of hounds and horns wove through them, joining them into the jubilations.
Above all the dancing, talking and drinking, atop a grove where ancient rocks were arranged into a faerie circle, stood a white stag. Blood dripped from the sharp points of his antlers and dripped onto his alabaster coat. He watched over the festivities with an unwavering gaze; a King presiding over his Court. Occasionally a fae approached to curtsey or bow or lay an offering at his hooves, but the Erlking merely inclined his great horned head and continued watching all those who came and went.