Twila found a quiet spot within the town and sat down to cast her spell. The ground in front of her shimmered and rippled like ocean waves before settling into an image of Elaine.
“Twila?” she asked. “Is this terribly important or can I contact you later?”
“I’m afraid it is important,” Twila answered. She explained the journey she’d gone through and told her aunt about the small colony of dark elves she’d encountered.
“Interesting,” Elaine stated. “I never would have imagined you’d find the old city or that dark elves still lived there. So… they want to move up here, correct?”
“It shouldn’t be too much of a problem,” Elaine said. “Worst case scenario, we can give them some land near the main city t start their own little village.”
“You’re really agreeing just like that?” Twila asked.
“Of course!” Elaine declared. “Even if we have been separated for a long time they are our sisters. Besides, I’m very curious to hear about what life was like down there and to see just how different they are. Oh, and see if the elder has any books that you can bring. Tell her our compliance needs a little cultural exchange if you must.”
“I understand,” Twila said. “But, Auntie, it could be a trick of some kind.”
“If these dark elves do have some ill intentions we can handle it,” Elaine said. “Don’t you worry.”
Reginald stirred and slowly opened his eyes.
“Hey,” Velvet said. “Sorry about, you know, beating you up.”
“It was a lucky hit,” Reginald muttered. He looked around. “Where are we?”
“My village,” Derry answered.
Reginald glanced over her, confusion spreading over his face. “What… who?”
“She’s Derry,” Lysara said. “A dark elf.”
They heard a knock on the door and Twila walked back in.
“Elder,” she said. “My aunt is willing to find a place for your youngsters. However, she requests any books you have be brought along.”
“I had planned on sending them,” the elder stated. “They may get repetitive and most will find them dull, but they contain our history down here.” The old woman rose, leaning on her stick. “There were definitely sad and painful times, but we conquered all of them and I want those who grow up freely in the upper world to know that they came from a strong people.”
“Can you really call yourselves strong when you guys have hid in this tiny area away from threats?” Axra asked.
“Hey!” Derry cried. “We….” Her grandmother held her staff up to Derry’s face.
“Quiet,” she said. She turned to Axra. “You may be right. We weren’t strong enough to defeat the obstacles. But we adapted and managed to survive. Can you really say that isn’t strength in and of itself?”
The old woman turned to Twila. “You will get most of them up there, right? Past the psyrens?”
“I’ve actually been thinking,” Twila said. “There might be a way you and the other elders can help. It will be risky, though.”
“Oh,” she said. “Tell me.”
“The psyrens feed off of your released emotions, right?” Twila inquired. “So if you were to all go and let them out at once…”
“They’d come to feast,” the old woman finished. She burst into laughter. “That’s good. That’s a good plan. We’ll do it.”
“But, Grandma,” Derry protested. “There won’t be anyone to protect you all. If a scorpitoid or golem comes…”
“Derry,” she interrupted. “That’s enough. With all you youngsters leaving, do you think we’d last long?” The old woman shook her head. “You all carry our legacy. Our hopes. I know that there isn’t a single one of us who wouldn’t gladly give up our lives to preserve all of you. Her plan, it’s a good one, and a way for us to give all of you a final gift.”
“Grandma…” Derry whispered, tears were streaming from her large yellow eyes.
“I love you, Child,” the elder said, her voice softening considerably. “Go. Make your future with Goldie and the others. But never forget where you came from.”
“I won’t!” Derry promised, crying openly. “I’ll never forget.”
“That’s my girl,” the elder said. “But I am going to need one more thing from you.”
“A town meeting?” Derry asked.
The elder nodded. Derry reluctantly grabbed a bell from a stone chest by the door and left the house. The group heard it ringing.
“Now then,” the elder said. “It’s time for me to speak with everyone. Come along outside with me. You should all see this too.”
While waiting, Lysara and Twila explained what was going on to Reginald.
“I can’t say I really get all of it,” he said. “But they need our help to get to the rest of the dark elves, correct?”
“In a nutshell, yes,” Twila answered.
“Then there’s no need to hesitate,” Reginald said. “Tis a noble purpose.”
The area in front of the elder’s house was soon crowded with gray-skinned dark elves. Axra noted that the younger ones all had highly luminescent skin like Derry’s whereas the elders all had more muted tones. So, it was an age thing.
The elder stepped forward to address them. “It’s come,” she said, simply. “The time we’ve always dreamed of. The time our stories have always promised is here.” She nodded back to Axra and her group. “Travelers from the surface have come and they have agreed to take us with them to our cousins.” She marched over to Axra. “This girl is one of our cousins. An entire city of them lives underground, but far above here. Away from golems, psyrens and scorpitoids. A city, where travel to other lands, parley with other cultures, isn’t a distant dream. Where we needn’t hide in a small patch of land.” Her closed eyes looked out to the crowd, most of whom stared in stunned silence.
“I have spoken with these travelers,” she continued. “I have told them of our plight and they have agreed to help all of you youngsters reach this great city.” There was a murmur of applause throughout the crowd. “In exchange, the other elders and I will remain and distract the psyrens from your mission.” She held up her hand against the cries of dissent. “Now, now. It’s for the best. We couldn’t make it up the great stairs anyway, even with help. We’d be too great a burden. Still, I won’t selfishly inflict my will on others. Any elders who wish, may remain behind in the village in safety. As for me, I will go. Youngsters, pack up and be ready to go. Elders, decide for youselves whether you’ll come with me or not. That is all.”