Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Green Man

I've a particular fondness for the Green Man, a character that appears again and again in European mythology. He's most often seen as a design element in old Cathedral architecture, but his face pops up here and there, often in places you wouldn't expect it. His appearance can vary, but it pretty much always incorporates leaves and other vegetation as part of his facial features--sometimes the leaves are on vines sprouting from his mouth, sometimes his face itself is made of leaves. Sometimes he's scary looking, menacing, tortured. Sometimes he's mysterious.

I've already mentioned, in a previous blog post, some of the elements that inspired the Verlvik character. But that post grew so long that I decided to leave the Green Man out. Still, because of my love for him, I decided he deserved mention too.

His influence on the Verlvik character might be most apparent at the end of Chapter 14, in which Athemon sees Verlvik for the first time:

Something rustled again in the bushes off to his left. Athemon watched the bird, fascinated. And then he felt a tap on his shoulder. Confused, he looked around. Grillis was still asleep, sprawled on the moss bedding. Perhaps Athemon was imagining things. But then he felt a tap on his shoulder again, and looked down on the grass at his side.

Two tiny bird skulls lay on the wet grass.

Alarmed, Athemon leapt to his feet, his head swiveling right and left, scanning the close-growing shrubs, the broad-fanned ferns. His eye passed over one particularly large bush twice before he realized there was a person’s face peeking out through its leaves.

A face. A green face, as green as the leaves around it. It was watching Athemon.

“Grillis!” Athemon shouted, stepping back.

Instantly the fighter was on his feet, mace in hand.

The face grinned, showing teeth as yellow as old ivory, a gap where the left eyetooth should have been. The right eye was an uncanny green, clear and bright as a gem. The left eye was covered with a milky film. Thick locks of ginger hair, knotted and tangled until they looked like lengths of rope, framed the face and tumbled down over a pair of slight shoulders.

The person stepped out from amongst the ferns. He was about the size and height of a ten-year-old, but something in his eyes told Athemon he was no child.

There was a necklace of bones strung around the little fellow’s neck, a thick belt of knotted brown hair around his waist. He had a short, straight stick strapped to his back. Except for the necklace, belt, and a loincloth—which looked like it had been made from pounded bark—he was naked, and all over his body his skin was just as green and dark as his face.

He stepped toward Athemon, still grinning, and nodded his head several times. And then he spoke.

“Cernunnos,” he said. “I have been searching for you.”

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