WHAT IT IS
Known as the king of fairies, supernatural being, or plain malevolent spirit, the erlking is a strange one indeed that lurks in woodlands, taking people to their deaths. Details of the creature come from the Oxford Dictionary: a bearded giant or goblin who lures little children to the land of death. How creepy, am I right? It gets worse.
The erlking origin derives from Denmark and has appeared in literary work such as Erlkönig (see the picture below) in the poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which was inspired by the ballad “Sir Oluf he rides” by Johann Gottfried Herder. From Scandinavia as well as Germany (Goethe), this creature is an omen of death, appearing at the moment of a person’s demise. How the victim succumbs to death is up to the creature’s expression as some tales are told. Most descriptions come from the above literary works. Goethe’s work tells the tale of a child being killed by the erlking while Herders depicts the villain as an elf-maid that puts a fatal sickness on a man who refuses her a dance. It’s a very unforgiving creature
Surprisingly, there’s some references to the erlking in modern literature and entertainment, and some beautifully animated videos I’ve included below:
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire video game
- The Erl King’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
- Shadowspell by Jenna Balck
- Goeth: http://www.online-literature.com/goethe/1648/
Please use this creature. Since it’s an omen of death, so much can be done with it, especially in supernatural-themed books! Urban fantasy would also benefit from this but I wouldn’t mind a period piece with a little bit of horror with the erlking around. I also get the feeling this could be in a crime novel–wait, let me explain–like a supernatural crime series (Supernatural the TV show or Grimm comes to mind) where the main character works with an erlking to solve murders.