“King Beryl, I do not believe these humans should remain here. They have killed nearly two dozen trees at the edge of Elleyw since their arrival three days ago. At this rate, half of the forest will be leveled by the first snow fall.” Queen Seldanna paced in front of a chair.
“Dear Seldanna, do not be so quick to judge. Your own people washed ashore here many centuries ago. Had it not been for the kindness of Aggran your people would not be in these seats today.” Beryl shifted and his golden eyes met Seldanna’s emerald ones.
Seldanna sighed. Beryl was correct. Her ancestors had landed on the shores of Elgeren centuries ago, led by the great elf King Galren and Queen Lioa. The dwarf king Aggran welcomed the elves, housing them for the winter and giving them vast expanses of forest and field when the seasons changed. Without his kindness, her people would have perished long before the changing of the seasons. Seldanna glanced at the twelve men and women closest to her—the members of her council. Their faces gave no hint of emotion, but the queen could see it in their eyes. This was an argument she could not win.
“They will stay in your halls, King Beryl, and out of the forest until they have learned our ways. If you agree, the council will meet again at the end of the moon cycle to review their progress and decide whether or not they will be staying permanently.”
The two councils reconvened in the circular room of their ancestors. This time, standing in the very center, was a male with nearly the height of the elves and the stoutness of the dwarfs. His hair was an earthy brown that hung just above his shoulders, pale blue eyes taking in the intricate carvings along the ceiling. The wreckage of a ship in the sand, with two elves and a dwarf just arms length apart. The dwarf had his arms open wide while the faces of the elven pair were blank. The male looked away from the image, brushing unconsciously at the furs he wore.
“Dalren, it has been nearly four weeks since your people arrived on our shores. You tell us they wish to stay and make their homes here. Why is that so, when we could build you another vessel and send you back?” Queen Seldanna was the first to address the human leader, taking note of the furs he wore—they were from no creature she had ever seen. Seldanna doubted that even the gentle Lueni, who only ventured forth from the woods for council meetings, would know.
Dalren took a deep breath and began to tell the two councils of his homeland. Little to no rain fell every year. What crops they could grow were frail—a sandstorm from the west or sudden heat wave could wipe out all of the season's crops. Only villages located along the shores could hope to thrive. The seasons were harsh, and the creatures that weathered the conditions were worse. Children had to be supervised every moment, lest they be snatched away by a hungry beast. Dalren wanted better for his children. He wanted them to be seen as a blessing, a solid roof over his wife's head, and food in the bellies of his people. He wanted them to grow old and fat and sleep in peace every evening. As he finished his tale, Dalren turned to face Seldanna.
“Your people have come a long way, Dalren. They have come to respect and understand our ways. Many have showed interest in learning to work the land when the snow melts. If you swear to keep to these ways, King Beryl and I have agreed that you can remain here.” Seldanna gave the human a faint smile. She still could not bring herself to trust him, but his people had complied eagerly. She only hoped they were not making a terrible mistake.
With a light heart, Dalren returned to his men, giving them the news. That night, they drank merrily with the dwarfs, mourning for their lost kinfolk and celebrating a future few could ever dream of.
Mia sighed, stretching before stuffing the worn, leather-bound book into her backpack. The sun had started to set and the red head would have sat longer beneath her favorite oak tree if it were not for the limited reading light and the thought of how early in the morning her classes had been that day. Her bright green eyes scanned the area, not wanting to leave anything behind this time. Just last week she had left the final essay for her biology class beneath the ancient oak and spent the entire evening rewriting it. Once certain that the book was the only thing she pulled out of her bag, Mia began the walk home.
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