Last time, Shani chased a thieving Asura deep into the jungles of Maguuma. In the Caledon Forest, she succumbed to the attacks of various dangerous creatures which she tried to ignore. Right in the safe arms of the citizens of a small hamlet.
Fear not this night, You will not go astray
Though shadows fall, Still the stars find their way
And you can always be strong
Lift your voice with the first light of dawn
Dawn’s just a heartbeat away
Hope’s just a sunrise away
Fear Not This Night, music by Jeremy Soule, lyrics by Ree Soesbee, performed by Asja
Hamlet of Annwen
It was late evening by the time Shani finally stirred. She looked around cautiously, her head still feeling heavy but better. As the grogginess began to leave her mind, she realized she was not alone. There were two people watching her. It was around this time she also noticed she was naked underneath a blanket which could have been made of leaves.
“Erm…” she said as she looked under the blanket for a moment, then turned her attention to the two people looking at her. One had brownish green… skin, for lack of a better word. It looked more like bark. Her (at least Shani thought it was a her) hair looked more like branches with small leaves at the end. What clothing they wore appeared to be leaves themselves. The other one was more greenish skinned with what looked like petals for hair. Pink and red. The one with the petals had large, brilliantly yellow eyes, while the other had large, dark eyes that seemed to sparkle in the fading light of the evening. Both of them were smiling pleasantly, and seemed rather excited now that Shani was awake. “…howdy. I seem ta be… without my clothes.”
“Oh, Lillian is fixing them,” the one with the branches said. “She’s an excellent leatherworker.”
Shani nodded, and took note of how the one with the petals was looking at her. “Do I… got a booger on my nose… ‘er somethin’?” The one with the petals tilted her head, not familiar with the term. “Jist… yer starin’ at me.”
“You’re not human,” she simply said.
“Straight ta the punch, ain’t ya,” Shani said as she sat up, but held her blanket in place. “Thet there is a might endearin’ quality ta have.”
“Lillian says you aren’t,” the one with the branches added. “She’s seen humans before. You don’t look like any human she’s seen. You look like them, but different. Your ears…”
“I’m an elf,” Shani said directly. “Also known as Fae Folk, the Sylvan Court, the Dark Elves o’ the Wood, an’ a few hundred other names fer my people.”
The pair tending to Shani (or just sitting there, to be more apt), both seemed to perk up at the term Sylvan. “We’re called Sylvari.” Shani just nodded, taking not that the pair just sat there, almost like the were waiting for Shani to do something.
“Y’all can call me Shani,” she finally said with a nod. “An’ you two are…”
“Oh!” the one with the petals cried out quite excitedly. “I am Amber of Dawn and this is Willow of Dusk. We energed from our pods only hours apart. Willow came out first, and I was next to arrive. Willow was the first person I saw. Since then we’ve been dearhearts.”
“Thet’s a very specific thing ta remember,” Shani said with a nod as she held the leaf blanket in place.
“It was three days ago,” Willow said with a nod that made her blink her dark, twinkling eyes. “We dreamed of this place, both of us. So we came here to help.”
“Lillian is one of the elders here,” Amber said in a whisper and then added. “Lillian is three years old.” It was said as if it were something scandalous.
“How old are you?” Willow said with genuine curiosity.
True of lie, truth or lie. They already know your an elf, may as well be the truth. “I’m… three… hunnerd… an’ two.” Shani saw the looks on the faces of the two Sylvari. They looked as though they had found the most ancient thing in the known world. And for them, that was probably accurate.
“Amber, Willow,” a voice called out. “Are you pestering our guest?”
“Lillian!” the two Sylvari said in unison. “Did you know, she’s over three hundred years old. And she’s called an elf. I wonder if her big dog is that old.”
“Wait, dog?” Shani asked as she listened to the two Sylvari go back and forth. “What?”
“Amber. Willow. You must calm down,” Lillian instructed them. She took a deep breath and looked to the pair with kind eyes then handed Shani her clothing. “You will have to excuse them, everything is exciting to them. I remember being like that when I first emerged.”
Shani took her clothing with one hand, holding the blanket with her other. Then she looked to the Sylvari. They appeared to not be phased in the least that Shani was about to get dressed. Finally, Lillian realized. “Oh, that’s right. Privacy.” She moved to turn the two saplings so they were facing away from Shani. Both seemed to be rather disappointed. Shani, however was a little bit relieved. She quickly began to dress and spoke as she pulled on her shirt.
“Gippsum, by the way,” she said with a huff as she pulled her cotton shirt over her head. “Ain’t a dog. She’s a horse.” She still felt a bit woozy as she pulled on her pants, but managed to get them on without falling over. “She been with me fer near ten years. Thet’s how old she is. I’m dressed, by the by.”
The two Sylvari giggled once Lillian let them turn around. “Star-Sky has your horse tended to. He is the best with animals.”
“I appreciate thet,” Shani said as she pulled on her boots. “Yer help has been a boon, an’ saved my life.”
“We would appreciate it if you didn’t talk too much about our little hamlet,” Lillian said with a great deal of seriousness.
“Ya have my word,” Shani said as she buckled her gunbelts. “As long as I can ask thet y’all keep quiet ’bout me. At least me bein’ an elf. Rather y’all jist say I was a stray human who got turned ’round.” Lillian nodded with affirmation and looked to Amber and Willow. They nodded quickly, more than happy to help keep a secret.
Shani pulled on her long coat and looked to the three for a moment. “Ya know… y’all ain’t too much diff’rent from my kind, I’d wager. Maybe, when I got more time an’ y’all ‘re a bit older, we could talk ’bout it more.”