The Speckled Ones
“This is a story my gran told me about the speckled people. She told it every year on Morgda Eve and as she told it the autumn winds swept the forest floor outside our small home beneath the trees and the trees caught every crisp star in their branches where they lit up the night like a great chandelier.
The speckled people are freckled people: spots of color dotting and dashing their skin. Nowadays this peculiarity is attributed to a substance we all have in our skin in varying degrees and differing manifestations. But my gran said freckles are the remnants of the markings of a forest people well known in their time but now all but forgotten.
Silent on their feet they were, moving to the whisper of breeze on leaves and windlets on grass. The sighing of the woodland marked their passage through it. Magic it seemed and invisible too because they (like the gray and brown and orange and black array of colors you see in the squirrels and other wild things of fall — matching their colors to the world around them) wore the colors of harvest on themselves and in their skin and thus they blended in so perfectly that they could hardly be detected — whether moving or still. Their “freckles” let them bend in with the fall foliage much like the squirrels and other wildlings.
Their face markings were gold leaf, metallic bronze, tourmaline, and soot. Red bled in lines radiating from their chins and sprawling downward in a path that covered their bodies in green lines and brown, gray and dun. All looked to be painted on but this was their natural coloration.
Beings that personified the forest in their long twiggy fingers and their bramble hair, their swaying walk and their skin so strange-a-shimmer.
Gran said they were known for their true-seeing into the other world and that the spots on their skin also signified all the possibilities of worlds within worlds.
Well this species of magical being intermarried and over the long years lost much of their distinctiveness but two things remained, my gran always told me, as the wind moaned and the stars twinkled: their spots (now merely freckles) and their unerring ken to true-see.” — Lyssa of the Arboreal Shades from the Night Fairytales series by Annette Marie Smith