Lysara took Derry back with her. Fang followed in the air, watching the strange woman intently.
“Guys!” she called. “I’m back! Is everyone okay?”
“They’re fine,” Twila said. “Well, mostly. Velvet hit Reginald pretty hard. But Reginald should be okay when he wakes up.”
“Ummm, who’s your friend?” Lily asked.
“This is Derry,” Lysara said. “She was singing the song that had us at each other’s throats.”
“You’d better explain yourself quickly,” Twila said. “Right now Bonnie, Axra and Velvet are still sorting themselves out, but once they recover their wits they’re going to be very curious about why you brought the woman who caused all this trouble here.”
“It was an accident,” Lysara stated. “She didn’t mean any harm. How was she even supposed to know we were here?”
Derry stepped forward. “I… I just don’t know what went wrong,” she said. “No one was supposed to be over here. I’m sorry.”
“So, what were you doing exactly?” Twila inquired.
“I was releasing my pent up emotions,” Derry said. “We do it routinely to keep the psyrens away. Letting go of our anger, hatred, fear and grief. I didn’t know anyone would be caught in it. Much less such… strange looking people.”
“You don’t look like anyone we’ve ever seen either,” Twila observed. “What species are you a part of? Lilly, Lysara and I are all half elves, half humans.”
“Oh, we’re dark elves,” Derry said. “I’ve heard stories that there are other species on the surface, but I never thought I’d meet one.”
“A… it… can it really be?” Lilly asked.
“A dark elf?” Twila added.
“I’m sure you guys forgot all about us up there,” Derry said. “I mean, I’m sure we’re in history books or something, but it’s probably just a footnote at this point since we’ve been down here for so long.”
Twila and Lilly looked at each other.
“Actually,” Twila said. “We have dark elves much closer to the surface. A whole nation of them. My aunt currently presides over it as the matriarch. One of our companions is a dark elf too.”
Derry stared blankly at her, scratching her head. “Sooooo you came to bring us back and reunite us with our sisters?” She looked around. “When can I meet the dark elf you brought with you?”
“Sorry,” Twila said. “We didn’t know you were down here. And Axra’s still a bit indisposed.”
“Axra, huh,” Derry whispered. “Axra… I like the name.”
“I… it’s weird, isn’t it?” Lilly asked. “I…, no offense, I just mean that… our… the dark elves we know… they don’t look like you.”
“These guys have been down here for several millenia,” Twila stated. “It would make sense that there would be physical differences between them and the dark elves who live much further up and visit the surface regularly.”
“Excuse me for interrupting,” Axra said. “But just what in tartarus is going on?”
“I echo the question,” Bonnie said. “I’m especially curious about our ashen… visitor.”
“This does seem like something I should probably know,” Velvet said. “So, can you explain in as few words as possible?”
Derry gasped and moved forward. She looked Axra over. “You…” she muttered. “Are you, possibly, a surface dark elf?”
“Well, half,” Axra said. “But yeah. Why?”
“Sister!” Derry cried, taking Axra’s hand. “It’s so good to see you!”
Axra pulled away from her. “And just who are you anyway?”
“Her name’s Derry,” Lysara said. “She’s a dark elf who lives down here.” She explained the situation as best as she could.
“Let me show you all to my village,” Derry offered. “I know our elder would love to meet people from up there. Especially a fellow dark elf.”
“We accept,” Twila said. “Please, lead the way.”
Derry beckoned for them to follow her. Axra stopped Twila. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked. “I mean, it could be a trap. She did put us under that weird spell, after all.”
“True,” Twila answered. “But a group of dark elves living down here would explain how the psyrens have survived. The way they release their emotions is probably palatable to them. Furthermore, we won’t be able to find out for sure without going.”
“And if she tries to enchant us again?” Axra asked.
“I’ve ordered Fang to follow closely behind her. If she uses any magic against us, I’ll order him to attack,” Twila explained. “And then we’ll know that she’s lying if that happens.”
“Watcha guys talking about?” Lysara asked.
“Nothing too important,” Twila answered.”Well, let’s get going.”
“Lysara…” Axra began. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to try to hurt you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Lysara said. “I mean, you were under a spell, right? It’ll make an interesting part of the story when I tell everyone what happened here. Friends put at each other’s throats by a careless release of magic. A princess trying to kill her close, personal friend. A knight fighting against her own princess. I can just imagine the verses.” She shook her head. “The important thing is that we’re good friends and you would never, ever try to hurt me under normal circumstances, right?”
“Definitely not,” Axra agreed. “Even if you do annoy me at times it’s nothing worth hurting you over.”
“Yay!” Lysara exclaimed. She hugged Axra. “I’m so glad we got over that and it isn’t going to hurt our friendship.”
Axra rolled her eyes.
The group followed Derry through the ruins. Bonnie and Velvet carried Reginald until he woke up. Derry led them to the northern border of the ruins. There were fields mere metres away with plants Axra couldn’t identify growing in them. Several gray skinned people were working in them. Beyond them was a city.
The buildings were somewhat crude, but practical. They also had a speckled look, being constructed of a mix of different kinds of stone.
“Fascinating,” Twila muttered.
“Come on,” Derry beckoned. “The elder’s home is this way.”