The Blackcap Mountains hold many strange corners and valleys, but the legend of Deadeye Alice sees many variants across the various tribes and clans that make their home there. Stories are whispered of the kindly auntie who lives past the fields or who whispers in the dead of night and offers her iron trinkets to those in need of a friendly voice. Tales of bargains in the night that bring both fortune and woe are told by dwarves in their Holds, and trolls in their caves. The druids warn of her iron nails and capricious nature, but also of her brutal family who roam the heights and do her bidding.
Deadeye Alice gets her name from the corpse-pale orbs in her head. An Annis Hag, this fey creature has made the Blackcaps her home for generations. Unlike some of her kind, Alice shuns the covens and gatherings of her sisters and cousins. Repulsive in appearance, she is not courted by the fairer folk. Instead she haunts the edges of settlements, gathers rumours and favours, and spins a web of obligations, blackmail, and corruption.
Many tales tell of wanderers who seek her out in search of hidden knowledge, or favours to aid them in battle or love. She sees everyone as children, young and foolish, in need of guidance. Sometimes that guidance is benign, sometimes it isn’t. She can be eloquent, or crude, direct or opaque, and sometimes all of that in one exchange.
Those who particularly interest her may be offered an iron token, reforged from one of her iron nails or teeth. She plucks it forth and reworks it before them and from then on the new owner can talk to her whenever they wish, and hear her whispers in return. She has used these tokens to guide explorers, to tempt priests, and to corrupt children – and they are mentioned in stories around fires and camps as the winds howl in the night.
So when children talk of their Auntie in the fields, parents shudder and ask other parents who was out that day. When old iron toys are found in attics, they are quietly thrown away rather than added to scrap in the forge. The fear is that adding hag iron to the foundry would see warriors undone by whispers as they stood on guard with that iron around their heads.
Deadeye Alice sees all, and hears all, and owes allegiance to nobody. And anyone who tries to change that, meets her family – her two husbands and her five sons.
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