Morning is perpetually tardy in Faerthale. The mountains and trees both block the sun until it is well into the day, which makes it very easy to sleep in. I abjured a lie-in this morning chiefly due to the excess of water I drank before bed, an excess of which I partook to ensure I woke up in time to play at being a Ranger. Once I was up and relieved of my liquid sentry I began exploring under the span of the Tree’s branches, in an attempt to find my quarry. It did not take long to find him, for he made no effort to hide his shameful activities.
I would like to have confronted him. I would like to be able to say that I faced him down, that I stood up for the idea of being a good neighbour and a fair trader, and that I didn’t sneak off to the nearest guard like a contemptible coward, but I cannot. Rather than standing up to him I scurried towards the nearest authority figure and squealed, for I knew that my mettle would not pass, that my will would not be found iron. Which is just as well, because the apple poacher heeds better the clink of coin lost. I mean, there’s got to be a fine of some sort, right? Surely I can’t be expected to know a wormy apple from a good one by its weight?
Heedless of my desire for a fresh apple or a good night’s sleep, Grandfather’s tale continues.
“What remained of Inchel was buried among the trees. It was more of a farewell to the memory of the child than anything, for the bear and its children had made a proper meal out of the body. Naejor wept, clutching the child’s blood stained, raggedy blanket in his once steady but now shaking hands. We were all sombre. Inchel was a cheerful child who would find curious insects and plants, and bring them to either the rangers or her father. They were young, but they were a friend, and they, like all the others, will be missed. They will be remembered.
“I can’t say that I have not experienced a lot of death. My formative years were spent fishing on the banks of the N’yleen, back on Sio’laen, before we were found. The Second Dawn was good for my people. It brought us something to gather around, and a hope for peace. It would be great if Lucent would grow to be as grand as Lumos once was. That is the hope in planting it here, after all – that the losses we suffered at the hands of the Tohr’mentirii weren’t for nothing, and that we can build a home among these evergreens.
“Speaking of building, we are fortunate to have had fair weather, but the leaves on the trees are starting to yellow and there is a nip in the morning air. Winter – or a winter-like season – is coming soon. We need to make some shelter.
“There are creatures in the forest that look like walking trees, and they aren’t all aggressive, but should they see you harming a tree they take their apparent stewardship very seriously. They don’t seem to object to the handling of their children, though. The seedlings are adorable, and seem to be very comfortable with strangers. I wonder what other new creatures we’ll see with time.
“It has been hours since I began this page - I am writing in my down time - and Naejor has not stopped weeping or cradling that shirt in the time that’s passed. He’s really taking it hard, though I imagine if I had lost a child in addition to all the friends and family I’ve lost, I might be wanting to turn back the clock a little bit. To have one last chance to see them smile, or to hear their voice one last time. To say goodbye.”
A person dies, and that is the end of the experience for them. Wherever they are, they are past it. But, for a community who knew them? For the bereaved? Suffering goes on. The pain goes on. Such are the trials of this life. That so many should be torn from this mortal coil speaks to both the tenacity of the Tohr’mentirii and the viciousness of the wild. However, since this page was scribed much has happened; today, when we look to threats, we do not see the Tohr’mentirii - nor the wilderness - as a clear and present danger. Rather, the fear of them is a relic of an age that we have left behind. We should have, in any case.
This is the Frail Age. This is the time of elven prosperity. Our Tree and trades are flourishing, and we have made great progress towards recovering the knowledge lost on our exodus both from our homeland, and from Sio’laen itself.
I must confess that I somewhat expected the Spriggan to show up, eventually. I did not expect it to take them days to adopt them as surrogate children, but perhaps, as many among our number were mourning, the seedlings indeed acted as surrogate children, as an attachment to the world and lives torn away from them. Mayhap there is a good reason for the seedlings I sometimes see being touted around by mercenaries and the like. Perhaps a very natural need to have something to keep as a companion culminating in the adoption of a seedling? Tis only a temporary companionship, but perhaps that is best for some of us – we stay in control of our own lives and do not have to worry about another’s desires. Decision making stays simple and you have a cute bundle of twigs poking and prodding at your person as the dawn breaks, every morning. What could be better? I think that I might like to find a seedling, one day.
Grandfather’s journal continues,
“It has been but a day, and Alchemist Naejor seems to be dealing with the brutal loss of his offspring as well as can be expected. He breaks down sobbing from time to time, but for the most part keeps to his tasks. It is good that he can still manage his own time – with our remaining number we must remain watchful. Far, far too many fell on Sio’laen, and too many still on this green hell.
“But we will make a home. We have to, for the Elven spirit must ever endure. So says the two-fold prophecy; we have planted the seed anew in foreign soil, and it is good; we have only (“only,” ha) to endure the second crucible. The idea that there may yet be another trial for the Elven people fills me with great fear, because we as a people have barely survived to this point. Millions of elves, down to around a few hundred? We are less a people and more last night’s leftovers.
“So I tell myself. So every elf tells themselves. So Naejor tells himself, as he works at his garden, turning the soil and planting his seeds. The surviving druids assist with the growth of the garden, as they do with the shaping of trees and earth. Hills and holts are turned into temporary shelters. Trees are asked to move, and are assisted with the process. All the while we keep our noses to the millstone we observe, and learn of our surroundings. We work quickly, making a day’s work of constructing basic shelter. No sooner do we get the final bough on the roof it starts to rain. Not a heavy rain, but a light drizzle, or an unconcerned shower.
“As we are not a folk given to natural destruction, our relationship with the trees around us, as well as our young heartseed, must remain first in our concerns. We don’t want to destroy life to make a home for ourselves, so we have decided to carve a home out of the side of the mountain, near where Inchel was killed. If there are any other bears in the area, we will find them, and hopefully the Valley of Fair Thale will be minus a few dangerous creatures.
“But, things aren’t all loss and mourning. Watching the children play always lightens my heart. They’ve taken to tying pine cones to their longer locks, with the goal of the game being to swing the pine cone from its place dangling to up on the child’s head. It looks like fun, but I can’t imagine making a fool of myself, whipping a piece of wooden debris around on my hair. Some things are best left to children.”
Having ample shelter has always been something I have been fortunate to enjoy. Between my parents’ home and the beds in the hall of the novice, I have not wanted for anything. This is, I think, what drives these refugees to seek succour among the mountains; a defensible home hewn out of rock, a fortress built with all the blessings of nature. It has not, and will not, fall. Unless, that is, the Revenant strike again, but things have been peaceful of late, so I don’t think I have much to worry about.
I think I’ll try a different merchant tomorrow. Archmage Gallad pines for his missing apple.