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Old Jun 14th, 2019, 06:00 PM
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Chapter 3 - Into the Wood

While the rest of the group rouses themselves, Amice does a quick lap around the immediate vicinity and finds no fresh, nor otherwise, hobgoblin tracks. She returns to give the good news to the group and turns back towards Galonodel to further lead their march through the Wood when the sound of Hadrion's sword exiting its sheathe turns everyone's attention back to their flank. As the rest joins the warlock in recognizing the rustling sound coming from the brush beside them they begin to arm themselves as he had, but are stopped short as they see someone familiar emerge.

Good morn.

The stoic face of Aelar, the elf they had treated with outside Torrine, meets them. His armor glinted in the sunlight as bright and clean as before - a stark contrast from the still disheveled and bloodied party.

I am glad you all found rest. And am happy to have been of service in the endeavor.

As the group exchanged confused looks, another elf emerged from the brush with a cloak draped over her shoulder. She tossed it down in front of the group and as it fluttered to the ground they each could clearly see the circle that marked it the same as the one they had seen in the De'Luca estate - worn by the fire rune thief. The mark of the Brotherhood.

He had been feverishly tracing your steps through the night, found you roughly an hour or two ago and started skulking about curiously. From the way he was acting, we assumed he wasn't a friend of yours.

He cleared his throat and the other elf disappeared back into the treeline. He continued, fixing his gaze on Amice.

I see you are heading for our city - presuming you learned the way from Elbereth. I would've thought you would be eager to bring tidings back to Torrine after holding up your end of the bargain. You might've been lauded as heroes... and been able to bathe.

His eyes briefly pause on Hadrion, still covered head to toe in now congealed blood. He turned away quickly before he retched.

What is it you hope to find in Galonodel? While we are grateful for your slaying the warlord of that motley crew squatting in our ancestral home, the terms of that bargain were already clear. And a welcoming of non-elves within our gates was not part of the negotiation.
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Old Jun 16th, 2019, 02:38 AM
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Amice the Huntress
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Amice greeted Aelar, relieved to see the familiar elf, though she was slightly vexed by the bathing comment. "We seek no hero's welcome, friend Aelar," she said, though she couldn't help a self-conscious brushing of her own tunic. "And there was far worse than a mere warlord and horde of hobgoblins within your ancestral home."

She then related a quick version of the group's recent activities, including the forge - and the weapons created by it, though she left out the weapons' apparent former influence over her friends - the probable meeting of the cloaked representative with the hobgoblins, the spirit guardians, the corruption of the vines underground, and finally culminating with their near-fatal encounter with Lady Nyvorlas and her dragon.

"We ask no additional terms to our 'bargain'," she assured the elf. "And we certainly intend to inform the human cities of what we've encountered. We simply thought to inform your people first, as it directly concerns your lands. Also..." she hesitated slightly, looking a bit guilty, "we might have a bit of explaining to do once we reach Torrine, seeing as how we, ah...'borrowed' their rune." Clearing her throat, she added a bit hastily, "But, had we not taken the rune, it would certainly have fallen into the hands of the hobgoblins."

"There is far more going on here than a simple hobgoblin conquest," she said. "The Brotherhood has two runes, and now we have two runes. This, at least, gives us a fighting chance." Shrugging wearily, she said, "The bargain was that you would speak on our behalf to your elders to allow Torrine access to the Siannodel if we cleared the ruins, and this we have done. And if that is all that's offered, we will gratefully accept. But, considering what else may be at stake, will Galonodel offer more aid?"

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Old Jun 16th, 2019, 01:38 PM
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Aelar's face scrunches in disbelief as Amice relays what happened in the ruins.

Lady Nyvorlas... that can't be...

He studies Amice for a moment before glancing over at Nails.

That doesn't seem a story Elbereth would share... nor one a city elf would learn. But, still... she has been gone for a millenia. Slain by a goddess. Do you claim to be stronger than Sehanine herself?

It is clear the elf is struggling with accepting this. After a moment, though, he collects himself.

Do you have proof of these claims? Or did you simply read a tome in the ruins and seek to fool us with them?
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Old Jun 17th, 2019, 07:06 PM
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Hzrd Slashwhip
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The large Tabaxi listens to the conversation between Amice and the Elf. Frustration building up as the Elf doubt the fact that they had almost lost their lives during the battle with Lady Nyvorlas.

Stepping forward Hzrd brandishes the Greatsword and flips it around so that it lay flat in his open palms. "Here is your proof. Listen to the sorrow of this weapon as it has lost its mother." Pushing the sword closer for the Elf to hear. "We almost lost but in the end, she was slain. Go down yourselves and you will see he body lying in the dirt as she was when Quest made her breath her last. Her green dragon beside her."





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Old Jun 18th, 2019, 12:20 AM
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Quest sheepishly raises his hand when Hzrd mentions his name. "That would be me." He takes a look around at his companions and continues, "It is true. We did manage to defeat Lady Nyvorlas. I am still incredulous myself. But she was at far from her full strength. And her dragon was severely depleted too. Hardly able to move."

The tiefling points to the grestsword displayed by the tabaxi and says, "Those weapons were empowered by her taint. She was arming the hobgoblins with them. Perhaps to take over the world, I don't know. She said she wanted to regain her lost glory. The hobgoblins are still there. We managed to slay only a few. But without her leadership, it won't be difficult to take them down and once again reclaim the city for your people. If that is what you want. Oh and we do have something else." The bard takes out the the necklace that had allowed the lady to assume a softer, prettier appearance. He takes a look at it once, then holds it up for the elves to see.
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Old Jun 18th, 2019, 11:37 AM
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Aelar looks at Hzrd like he's insane as he shoves his sword towards him and speaks about it like it's sentient. Upon further study; however, his demeanor changes and he steps forward to touch the blade. His long, deft fingers running softly over the blunt edge of it.

You can't tell by the black look, but at its heart this sword is made of mithril.

He glances over at Amice.

Is this what those wretched things were making at the forge? Our people haven't new mithril to work with since the fall of Lenolith... how did they get it? And why does it look like this?

Before he could pose another question, Hzrd opened the floor for Quest whom continued. Aelar listened intently, seemingly beginning to believe the tale as he spoke. When the bard produced the choker, Aelar's face turned pale white. He stood, silent, as he took a moment to collect himself.

I've only seen that bauble depicted in watercolor in books, but it's resemblance is uncanny.

He swallowed hard.

I... I don't know what to make of all of this, but you spin a convincing yarn at the very least.

Aelar turned back towards the brush behind him, as if he were hoping to get some assistance in unwrapping the mystery of what the party said from one of his subordinates. When none stepped forward, though, he spoke once more - still facing away from the group.

The Council... they will want to hear this for themselves.

He spun around abruptly to face the party.

If you still seek entrance to Galonodel, we shall escort you there. The Wood is home to things more dangerous than hobgoblins, and I doubt the man with the cloak was by himself.
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Old Jun 18th, 2019, 06:48 PM
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Amice the Huntress
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Amice's jaw had set when Aelar accused them of lying about their ordeal, but said nothing. Her anger eased when her friends stepped forward, each offering support of their tale. She relaxed a bit when Aelar finally seemed to at least accept the possibility of their story. That's the hardest part, she figured, getting our foot in the door.

She was shocked to hear about the mithril center to the swords. She knew little about the metal, save what Ril had ranted about while working his forge. As near as Amice could tell from the dwarf's bravado, mithril was capable of cutting through everything, blocking anything, and possibly curing diseases, refilling ale tankards, and causing women everywhere to swoon. Being this close to an apparently mithril blade, Amice still felt no desire to swoon, save from exhaustion, and there certainly was no fresh ale available. So far, she was not impressed.

"The hobgoblins had mindless smiths working at a forge powered by a fire rune," she explained. "We dropped enough explosives on it to destroy a large building," she cast a sideways glance at Nails at that, "but it did nothing to stop the effectiveness of the forge."

Glancing at the rest of the group, she turned back to Aelar. "We thank you for your invitation and your escort," she answered with a nod. "I know our news is difficult to hear, even with proof, but I believe it is important."

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Old Jun 21st, 2019, 11:14 AM
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Brixim
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Brixim observes the conversation with the elves quietly. In a soft voice he looks at Aelar and speaks: The things Nyvorlas did to the natural world around her were horrible. We couldn't let them stand. I did my best to push back against her, but I fell. If it hadn't been for the strength of these others you see around me, she would have revitalized her dragon and wrought terror and destruction over this entire forest. As you can see, we carry her belongings with us as proof of her destruction...and nearly our own. The gnome bows his head as his voice trails off and the party notices a long streak of grey through Brixim's beard and hair, apparently a remnant of his near death experience at Nyvorlas' hands.

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Old Jun 21st, 2019, 12:32 PM
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Aelar nods stoically and silently at Brixim - seemingly shell shocked enough to be unable to offer resistance any longer to the tale of what had occurred deep in the ruin. When Amice interjected with acceptance of the elf's offer of an escort, the elf motioned towards the brush and half a dozen similarly clad elves emerged and approached. He muttered something to each, in turn, in their native tongue and then one by one the other elves set off in the direction of Galonodel. Those whom spoke elvish overheard a bit of what Aelar muttered - in between bursts of inaudible.

Scout... the road... inform me of movements... to the Council.

When it was just he left once more, he turned back towards the group.

Well, then... let us be off. If we move swiftly and don't find impediment, we could be to the city before the sun is at its apex.

Meeting no protestation, Aelar sets off in the direction of Galonodel with the group in tow. For roughly an hour the group walked causally - in a straight line through the Wood. At the end of this time, one of Aelar's elven subordinates appeared out of nowhere and whispered to his superior. Aelar nodded and the other elf disappeared once more, and in response the former changed the direction of his path by about 10 degrees to the right. When pressed on why, he offered that the scout had seen an orcish contingent along the original path and this would allow them to loop around them. Without reason to question this logic - and thankful for avoiding an unnecessary battle - the group continued to follow. Another few hours passed, with Aelar turning back 20 degrees at some point to correct for his initial adjustment - setting the group back on the path towards Galonodel, by Amice's estimation.

The detour caused the sun to reach noon before they reached their destination, but they still did reach it - safely and undeterred. At first the group didn't realize it, as they only saw from a distance a large grouping of trees stretching impossibly high into the sky - forming a natural wall with their compactness as well as a dark, shadowy canopy from its long stretching, foliage filled limbs. As they approached; however, they saw a gap between the trees, adorned with an arch, of sorts, made of twisted, flowing vines, running up the length of the two nearest trunks to the gap and hanging across horizontally between their branches high above. As they approached further, until they were now under the canopy of the wall of trees stretching out in front of the 'entrance' to the city, the perceptive in the group noted elves hidden amongst the foliage above them, perched on limbs - bows and arrows in hand. Aelar notes your realization and smiles.

Thankfully, my lieutenant made it to the Council ahead of us. Lest you might have been pincushions entering the city.

Inside the 'gate', the group surveyed the surroundings and saw that the "city" looked much like the forest before; however, upon further inspection small buildings could be seen above them, nestled in trees, but obscured by the latter's leaves. To reach them, rope ladders hung precariously down trunks - painted purposefully the color of bark for near perfect camouflage. Here and there, the group saw movement amongst the branches or heard a rustling of leaves, but never did see anyone. Aelar noted it and spoke.

It's not usually so... 'ghostly' here.

He pointed over towards a clearing bereft of trees for roughly a 50 foot diameter.

Most days there is a large marketplace there - with traders and craftsman bartering their wares. It seems the Council sent warnings to gate guards and populace alike of your arrival.

His face scrunched as he sensed the group's unease - speaking directly to Amice and Hadrion.

You must be the first humans to enter this place in decades... perhaps centuries.

Turning towards Hzrd and Quest, he continued.

And even the greyest beards amongst us have likely never seen your ilk before.

He forced a smile - not nearly as re-assuring as the group assumed he was going for - and then turned to continue pressing on. After some time, the group found themselves approaching a giant tree - the biggest they had ever seen - standing at the end of an equally immense field of green space, flowering throughout, and not overgrown or disheveled in the least. Two elves stood stoic guard at either side of a black opening in the base of the tree trunk and observed the group warily as they walked up. Aelar held a hand up to stop the group and approached the pair by himself. After a moment of conversation, he nodded at the pair and beckoned the rest of you forward. Entering the tree, you saw stairs extending both up and down. Aelar motioned towards the descending stairs.

I have been instructed to resume my post, but you have been granted entry to the Council's chamber. They are at the very bottom of these stairs in the Great Hall.

He then nodded at the group and departed - leaving them alone inside the large tree. Looking down the stairwell, small stones embedded in the dirt emitted light enough to see all the way to the bottom. There appeared to be three doors cut into the dirt as you descended with a fourth at the very bottom. Looking up the stairwell, there was a large extent of stairs with a single door at the top - far enough above them that it appeared to be little larger than a thimble from their vantage point.

OOCWhat do you do?

Status:
initnamehpstatusPosition
xQuest38/3815 AC, 4/4 BI(d8), 1/1 HR, slots: 4/4L1, 3/3L2, 2/2L3; 5/5(d8)bHDx
xAmice44/4415 AC, slots: 4/4L1, 2/2L2; 5/5(d10)raHDx
xNails26/2616 AC, slots: 3/3L1; 4/4(d8)roHDx
xHzrd46/4614 AC, 2/2 rages, 1/1 AS, 1/1 SW, 4/4 sup die(d8); 1/1bHD(d12), 4/4(d10)fHDx
xBrixim29/2912 AC, port(1,19), AR 1/1, slots: 4/4L1, 3/3L2, 2/2L3; 5/5(d6)wiHDx
xHadrion34+8t/3416+2=18AC, 3/3 SP, 1/1 HBC, 1/1 RS, 1/1 fotg, slots: 2/2W, 4/4L1, 2/2L2; 3/3(d6)sHD, 2/2wa(d8)HDx
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Old Jun 21st, 2019, 01:21 PM
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Amice the Huntress
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Amice was impressed by the elven city, and humbled at being allowed within. Even as a girl, and enjoying friendships with several elves...even training at their hands...she'd never been allowed to so much as glimpse the city's location. Now that she walked amongst the great trees and saw things few, if any, living humans could talk of, she regretted the urgency of their mission. The urge to explore the elven home was strong, but she kept to their path. The mission was important, and she was welcomed only because of said mission. Plus, they would shoot her, and her friends, dead if she strayed.

She walked with the group to the tree and bade farewell to Aelar as he departed. Heading downward, she was amazed that the city apparently extended downward as well as upward. Traversing the stairs, she hardly glanced at the three doors they passed on the way down, fixed solely on reaching the bottom. She wasn't very happy about once again being underground, but at least this passageway looked and felt natural, a far cry from the nightmare they'd just escaped.

Reaching the last door, she paused a moment to glance at her friends. Giving a slight shrug, she stepped forward and knocked firmly on the bottom door.

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Old Jun 21st, 2019, 03:12 PM
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If there is any water source on the way to Galonodel, Hadrion stops and bathes and thoroughly cleans his armor and sword. Before reaching the elf capitol, Hadrion approaches Aelar and says, "I'm new to this land and I have very little knowledge of elves and their customs. My first impression is that your people are rather... wary of humans and other outsiders. Please tell me, Aelar, how should an outsider such as me conduct himself, if he wishes to gain the respect and friendship of your people?"



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Old Jun 21st, 2019, 05:19 PM
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OOCThe following scene is from before Aelar left the group...

The elf smiled at the freshly washed Hadrion as the - what he thought was a human - inquired about the best way to ingratiate himself with the denizens of Galonodel.

Indeed... though wary is an understatement.

Aelar sighed.

Short lived races likely don't remember - or perhaps they don't care to, but the lands of the Wood and what humans call the Tradeway used to all belong to elves, with the desert and mountains to the North belonging to the dwarves. Humans lived amongst the Wood, but were content with either small collectives or nomadic existences. Many centuries ago; however, they decided that wasn't enough for them - and as they often do, considered co-existence a zero-sum game. Needless to say... there was blood. Still is, though not near as much as before - ever since we started being more aggressive as a deterrent.

He shifts uneasily and allows an awkward pause for the words to wash over the group before continuing.

That is what the elders amongst us say - and what we learn as young elves ourselves. I wasn't alive for the worst of it, though in my two centuries of life I have been witness to plenty of strife between the races.

He clears his throat and straightens himself to stand up tall - his demeanor shifting from forlorn back to proud.

But enough of this history lesson. If it's advice for interacting with the Council that you're looking then the equation is simple. Answer when presented a question and be silent when you haven't. Be polite and, when applicable, be contrite - even if you aren't quite sure what for. The elders on the Council will know - they harbor the most ill will towards your races of any in the city... because they were alive for the worst of it.

With this faintly cryptic message, Aelar turns back towards the path and continues to the city.

OOCAnd now, shifting back to the present...

Amice leads the group down the stairs and past any potential diversions - heading straight for their intended destination. At the door, the ranger knocked three solid beats of her fist against the wood before pausing. She was surprised to find that the door felt like a tree whose bark had been freshly stripped. Before she could think too much of it; however, a voice from inside could be heard. The words were elvish, those whom didn't know it assumed. Amice; however, knew their meaning to be "come in" and, so, pushed the door open.

Inside, the room stretched long, but thing in front of them. It tapered at the end by vertically and horizontally before terminated in the tip of an isosceles triangle. Halfway down the length of the room sat three chairs. Each chair looked as if hand carved from a solid piece of wood with intricate runic carvings etched into them and each chair had an elf sitting in it - staring at the party solemnly. Unlike Aelar, these elves were grey and wizened looking, with dark green robes stretching across the entirety of their bodies - tied tight around the waste with vine-like cords. The party and trio stood silently for a moment as the elves seemed to take time to study the group - before the former motioned for the latter to approach.

Once standing just in front of the three old elves, the one in the middle broke the eerie silence - speaking once more in elvish, so only Amice and Nails could understand. For the rest, he only seemed to babble incoherently for a short while in a tongue they did not know. Halfway through his talk, they saw the man lean forward and tap his fingers impatiently on his thigh. Once he was finished speaking, he waved his hand and the air around the room seemed to shift around the group. Brixim felt the shift most keenly and muttered under his breath in common that a Zone of Truth had been cast around the group. The elf then spoke a short, curt utterance and then sat back in his chair comfortably - seemingly ceding the floor to all of you.


Zone of TruthFor the rest of this conversation, you are magically compelled to speak only the truth.
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Old Jun 26th, 2019, 01:13 AM
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Hzrd Slashwhip
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Hzrd follows the group staying quiet and making himself as large as he could without being threatening. The large Tabaxi has no intention of speaking unless he is addressed directly and has no other choice. Once in the room with the three old elves, he just crosses his arms as they chatter in what he can only assume is Elvish waiting for anyone else to start the proceedings.





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Old Jun 26th, 2019, 02:58 AM
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Amice the Huntress
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Amice answered the elders in Elvish, inwardly wincing at what she imagined their reactions would be to her unpracticed and unelven accent. Her hand motions to give vague visuals and identify the various group members also served to give her friends some idea of where she was along the story and what she discussed.

When she finished, she simply bowed politely and waited for the elders to respond.

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Old Jun 26th, 2019, 11:59 AM
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The elf sitting at the center of the trio regarded Amice thoughtfully as she spoke - his expression held fast. The two by his flank listened with sterner, similarly unwavering, faces. Their eyes fluttered briefly to each party member as the ranger made introduction and extolled their individual parts of the story, but largely remained fixed on Amice herself through the duration of her speech. When she had finished, there was a brief, awkward silence between the two groups. Finally, the one at the center spoke - in, to their surprise, Common.

Your elvish is rough to the ear, though the attempt was admirable from one of your race.

Another pause hung in the air after this, as the group exchanged curious glances - wondering if critiquing Amice's accent was going to be all this great council of elven elders was going to offer in response to their outrageous tale. The one to the right of the one whom had been speaking for the trio thus far leaned forward and joined the conversation - also in Common.

We cannot doubt the truth of your words since our magicks compelled no falsehood be spoken; however, the tale is still difficult to believe.

The one on the left-side of the trio looked across to the latter to address him.

The truth can be subjective. If the girl was mad enough to believe herself a goat she would have been free to state as such even ensorcelled as she was - despite the obvious falseness, to us, of the claim.

The one in the middle shook his head at the sentiment.

That may be true, but I see no such insanity in her eyes. And their tale does seem to line up with some... other things.

The left-side elf made to protest, but the one in the center held up a hand and the former sank back in his chair - defeated. The latter turned towards the group once more, standing from his chair for the first time since the conversation began. His robes that had been folded neatly in his lap fell like a waterfall down his legs to cover his feet and drape like a wedding gown across the floor behind him. He had a slight slouch due to the weariness of his age, but still he stood roughly 6 feet tall - meaning he was like to be closer to 6.5 feet if he were standing straight up. Assuming he was capable anymore, that is.

I am the last amongst our people that witnessed the events that day in Lenolith, our people's long lost ancient home. I saw the destruction the princess wrought that fateful day atop her monster; me still a child slung across my mother's back as we rushed through the Wood away from it. I watched as Our Lady appeared in the sky and fought back against her rebellious daughter. The clash of their power wielded against one another lit the sky brighter than any lightning I've seen in my 1050 years walking this world of ours. When we landed in this place, where Galonodel now stands, our people's numbers were decimated twice over. Made up largely of women and children, as my mother and I were, with only a few elderly or enfeebled men with us whom hadn't taken up bows in the city's defense. We waited weeks, no... months, for Sehanine to appear to us - to tell us of her victory and to lead us back home.

His eyes drift past the group - as if he is now wistfully viewing the past.

My mother believed it harder than all the rest combined, that Our Lady would come back to us. But still to this very day she has been absent from her children. After years of her absence, we began to believe that the events in Lenolith had made her desert us - her wicked offspring that had caused so much pain and suffering. But their tale offers another explanation... doesn't it?

He glanced over at the two elderly elves whom had been flanking him when he sat.

That Sehanine won the battle by saving what was left of her people, but lost the war - and her life - against Nyvorlas.

The other two elves sucked in their breath at the statement. The one whom had been at the eldest elder's right mouthed the word blasphemy as he sat in overt shock. The one standing turned back to the group - ignoring the protestations of his peers.

We eventually settled where we had landed and grew this patch of Wood into another small city for our kind. Much more modest than the previous - mirroring the enfeebled population. We lost much and more in Lenolith's fall - with precious little progress having been made in the interim to reclaim it - and the pain of remembrance caused us to avoid the place. Seemingly at our peril, since our people's enemy was marshalling her strength there for another attack.

He began to step towards the party.

It seems we elves owe you quite a debt. Aelar's scouts told us of the 'deal' you had made for the people of Torrine and we three have already decided to honor it before your arrival. Even if your tale of Nyvorlas had proven false, the blow you struck the mounting hobgoblin force was unambiguous, after all. With humans to the East, orcs to the South and hobgoblins to the North, our people have had many a sleepless night of late.

His face grew serious as he continued.

Know this was no small request, though. Our people's suffering did not end 1000 years ago in Lenolith... and almost all of it in the interim has come at the hands of man. To make concessions to aid them is going to be considered a grievous treachery by many in Galonodel. Truth be told, we three aren't entirely convinced that it won't be folly in the end, either. It may not be today or tomorrow, but the short lives of humans make pacts easy for them to breach. They need only to wait for the death of the pact maker to free them from the bonds of it.

From behind the main elder, the two whom had been flanking him had rebounded from their earlier astonishment to gird their expressions once more and offer nods of agreement to the latter sentiment. The former returned to his chair and slumped back down in it between them - still regarding the party.

But, that is our burden, not yours. You have my word that things will be as I said at the mouth of the Siannodel. No errant harm from elvenkind will befall the humans from the Tradeway when they come to collect water. Assuming they press on no further, of course.

His eyes seemed to flare for a moment as he offered the veiled threat - his voice going deep and ominous. He didn't need to vocalize what an unwelcome encroachment past the elven concession would be met with. Once he had finished, he leaned back lazily in the chair once more. He took a deep breath to settle what seemed to be a welling, quiet anger. When he spoke again a moment later, he was calm once more.

Is there anything else you would speak of with us before you depart?
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